Mexico Mission Trip, 2017–Safely Home

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What a wild week!  I feel like I’ve gone from one end of the world to the other in the last few days.  We came in, all safe and sound, a little before 10 p.m. last night.  During the night, it rained!  The climate change from lush, green Oregon to dry, dusty Mexico created quite a contrast.

As I’ve already mentioned in the first post, the first day, I ended up staying at the base with a sick boy.  He ended up quite sick, and even needed antibiotics, but then recovered quickly once he got them.  Thank goodness for Gail, my sister, who knew what he needed (she’s a n.p.) and Ron, my brother-in-law, who is proficient in Spanish.  So, that day, I had extra time and some wifi.  All I had to do that afternoon was make brownies for snack time, and clean the kitchen, along with giving him ice, cool cloths, etc.  Also, we chatted a lot.  He ended up being a delightful kid, who had the best attitude possible for one who so longed to be with the other kids.  By the next morning, he joined the group and did what he could, sleeping in the van with Rob, who ran the air conditioner, for a lot of Monday and Tuesday whenever he needed to.

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The team went out and had their first contact with the people we were there to minister with.  They had a church service with them, and ran an abbreviated VBS.

The next morning, we all went out to the worksite bright and early.  I felt happy to be no longer sitting around.  Instead, I was given the job of digging up the rocks and dirt with some others.  Yikes!  We were supposed to fill in all the holes ( there were many, and they were deep), in what was going to become a parking lot.  We were never able to finish that, but got a long ways.  Talk about a contrast of activities!  It felt great to do something physical after riding in the car for 3 days.

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We also moved cinder blocks.  There was a group of men who were building the church walls with them, held together with concrete.  The progress was slow and steady and led by a stone mason.  Each block was painstakingly placed in its exact place, all lined up in perfect order.  During the week, it was exciting to see the building getting taller!  They have a ways to go, though, and will keep working hard, as they did before we came to help.

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A lot of sandy gravel was screened so it could be used for concrete.  There were 2 wheelbarrows and 4 shovels for all of us to share for both projects, and all the concrete was mixed by hand, using water brought from somewhere.

 

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Then, beams were delivered and laid out and needed painting.  They had to be prepped with some kind of lacquer, then painted, both on the front and the back.  There were a lot of them!  I never ended up painting because I was given different jobs on those days, but my sister did for one day!

The church that we were assigned to help has a building in a nearby town that they rent. They have been working hard to build this church so they can have their own facility.  It was very gratifying to work side-by-side with them, and help them make a big leap of progress during the week we were there.

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Every morning, we divided into 2 groups.  Some of us worked on the new church building, side by side with the church members.  In the afternoons, we did VBS.  In the evenings, we usually went to the beach, except Wednesday, when we did a special youth outreach.  During that service, our kids had prepared a skit, which they performed, music, and testimonies.  It was concluded with some games, including a contest between one of their youth and one of ours to see who could drink a Coke the fastest, and then which could eat a orange in one bite.  You’d never believe how well those simple games went over, but everyone loves them.  There was a question and answer time where the youth could all ask questions of each other, using a translator.  After that time, the next day, the regular church attenders and our kids were really bonded and started having a great time together on the work site.  Some of their youth even came down to play on the beach with our kids that evening.

Rob ended up being the errand boy, as he has on other trips in the past.  He delights in that role, and it doesn’t phase him at all that he does not speak one work of Spanish.  So, every day, he shopped for things that were needed–such as more water, extra t.p., and so on.  It got a little more interesting when he was asked to find S’more ingredients (he found chocolate, pink and white marshmallows, and some kind of cookie that would do), marbles (he did charades at several stores, and finally found them a couple of days later), and more!  So, when asked for glue–he knew right where to go–the office supply store. On that day, I was the errand-girl with him, so got to try to explain to the lady in the store that I needed strong glue……anyway, we got the glue, but it was pretty funny–all those charades!

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Things are different there.  There are many little shops for different things, along with many, many little markets sprinkled throughout the town.  There are also grocery stores that are similar to ours here in the U.S.  There are taco stands on many corners.

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Each morning, part of the group joined up with church members to go out through the neighborhoods.  During those walks, people were invited to the church service on Wednesday, prayed with if they wanted prayer, given tracts if they wanted them, etc.  The children were invited to the daily VBS, which was held each afternoon.  I enjoyed those walks and seeing the people and the sights.  Some people even invited us in to their houses to pray for them–it was very special.  I did that for 2 mornings.  Each group had to have one of our adults, one or two from the local church, and at least one guy.  So, I was the “adult from our group” twice.  I was paired with non-English speaking people both times, and I do not speak Spanish.  But, we found a way to communicate.   I did not take pictures during that time.  I mean, would you want a group of people you did not know, from Mexico or anywhere else,  coming up to, or inside of,  your house and snapping photos?  Me either.  So, I didn’t.  But, I sure enjoyed myself.  The people we got to know during the week were delighted to have us take pictures with them.

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Each day at noon, we went back to the rented church facility, where the ladies of the church had prepared us extremely yummy, authentic Mexican food.

They were instructed how to make food that would not make us sick, and no one got sick from the food, including myself.  My brother-in-law would find out if any food had gluten in it, tell us, and Gail and I would happily munch away!  Each day, we had some kind of freshly squeezed juice as well!  YUM!!

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This is Ja’Ana’s best friend, Angel, holding one of the happy participants of the VBS with her craft.

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Ron did a lot of translating.  Since he grew up in Bolivia, he is very good at it!  Alissa and Ja’Ana both did music, as well as all the other projects.

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Patsy helped out wherever she could.

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Of course, Ja’Ana found a baby to hold.   That is not the baby’s mama in the background, that woman is one of 2 who set up tables so they could sell blankets and other souvenirs to our kids.  The baby’s mama actually attended VBS with her 4 children, and seemed as interested as they were in all of it!

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Alissa is holding up the puppet curtain, and I believe Ja’Ana is back there, holding up one of the puppets.

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VBS each day included games, crafts, a snack, Bible verse memory, Bible story (in a movie, in Spanish), a puppet show (pre-recorded in Spanish), and songs.  It went very well.  Gail had rounded up lots of prizes and all the kids got a prize each day. At the end of the week, they got rewards for memorizing their Bible verses. Some kids memorized all 5 of the Bible verses, and they got even more prizes on the last day for their hard work.  they were very happy with them:)

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We drove down to the beach several times.  It’s only about a mile from the compound.  The missionaries had some surfboards, and the kids had a ball playing with them.  Angel even got up on one a couple of times, after lots of trying!  One of the girls from our group had planned her baptism to be done in the ocean in Mexico.  I thought that was a great idea.  She will never forget that!

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The base is beautiful.  As I mentioned, there is space for 4 groups to be there working at the same time.  Each has its separate area, including kitchen and bathrooms and sleeping areas, but they come together for the training at the beginning of the week and at the end.  Each team is sent to a different church, but all groups have a work project, VBS, and services, etc.–all the things we did in different towns.

Thursday night, there was a meeting for all the groups who were there, for debriefing.  Of course, each night, our teens and youth pastor and leaders led our own team time as well, so Thursday was a late night.

On Friday, it was time to say good-bye and head towards home.

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We stopped in LaBufadora, a tourist spot on the coast near Ensenada, so the kids could shop.  We ate in a restaurant–tacos again–amazingly wonderful!  And, $1.50 each.  For any kind you wanted.

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Again, thanks to Ron for finding us safe food we could enjoy!

That night, we slept in Los Angeles.  The next morning (I can hardly believe it was yesterday) we were on the road at 5:30 a.m.  We drove straight home.  It worked well.  Nothing broke, the kids were motivated to make short stops, the van that could travel faster than the rigs pulling little trailers went ahead and ordered pizzas from Costco and the kids got to eat them in the parking lot……and so on.  We arrived a little before 10 p.m. last night.  Boy were we tired today.  Rob and I both slept all afternoon after church and are ready to hit the sack again pretty soon.  We are so pleased with how the trip went.  Not only are we pleased with what we were able to accomplish, it makes us happy to expose the teens to another culture, another way of life, and to mission work!  I feel like we really encouraged the local church there as well.  Their pastors were so thankful and said our presence really motivated their youth to come and work together with ours.  That warms my heart, because it is going to be so much more significant to them since they put in so much sweat equity, too. It was an amazing trip, and we are so glad we went.  I loved to see how the teens grew so much as individuals during the week.  They did many things they didn’t know they could do, and thrived while doing it!  As always, the people made it worth it to us–both the ones we were with, and the ones that were already living down there.

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Mexico Missions Trip-2017-Sunday

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We have arrived.  Safely and in one piece.  Praise God.  The journey down was filled with both challenges and blessings.  On day one, we all got off to a good start.  We did not quite make the 6 am start we had hoped for, but were off and running before 7.   The vans were loaded, the luggage tied down in the trailer, and the kids all loaded up.  The weather was very warm, but we all had air conditioning, so were not suffering at all.  Our van was filled with charming young ladies, and we started to get to know the ones that were new to us.  It was fun!

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When we got to our lunch stop, we had a picnic and then crossed this bridge.  It is in Redding, California, and it was around 109 degrees.  We walked across it anyway and had a singing and prayer time on the other side.  It was very meaningful, but we were all glad to get back into the vans.  I had to laugh to hear all the teens exclaiming how excited they were to get BACK into the vans:)

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We spent the night in Sacramento, California.  The capitol building is beautiful at twilight.

Day 2 was the rough one.  We got a great start, but as soon as we hit Los Angeles, there were a series of wrecks and road construction delays that caused us to slow way, way down, even though it was early afternoon.  We crept along, starting and stopping, and continued to San Diego.  It was backed up the entire way.  So, 2 vans (ours included) stopped and started along for around 5-6 hours, down the freeways (we tried 2 different routes and both got delayed the same amount).  But, we finally made it.  One of the other vehicles had a mechanical problem (brake issues) and had to pull off.  The other 2 vehicles went back to rescue them, as they had empty seats.  The blessing was that they found a mechanic shop that had workers with time to work on it, stayed overtime, and skipped their dinner to fix it. And, by then, the traffic had cleared out somewhat, so they made good time.  The day was long for everyone.  We were so thankful that every one was safe, and that this was the night we had a hotel to stay in.  After nice showers, and comfortable beds, we were off again, bright and not quite so early to cross the border.

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The drive was lovely.  We drove along the coast down to Ensenada and saw beaches like this along the way.  There were also many lovely coastline views, from the top of cliffs, and along the winding roads.  At Ensenada, many of the leaders took the kids down to the beach for a short time.  A few of us went to Costco to get the rest of the supplies that we needed.  My brother-in-law stayed with the vehicles that were hitched to the trailers with our luggage, because he is fluent in Spanish and could ask anyone who was interested in our things to move right along.  When we came back from Costco, he was laying in the shade on top of the luggage trailer, and looked quite comfortable.

Last night and today, we have had orientation meetings, with lots of instruction from the missionary who lives here on the base.  There are 4 groups here.  One is from Canada, 2 from Oregon, and one from California.  Each group has their own separate housing/cooking/ etc., but we were trained together.  Once we knew all the “do’s” and “don’ts” we were ready to serve.

Right now,  most of our group is out on their first ministry adventure–inviting people to a special church service, a meal with the church, a service, and a mini VBS for kids.  Rob has been driving around this afternoon gathering and delivering supplies that we need, such as t.p. and paper towels.  We thought they were provided here, but we were supposed to bring them…  Gatorade for the poor boy who had a rough night being sick, more ice for coolers…..things like that.  He’s been shuttling kids to the work site, and now has delivered all those things back to the base and headed back to the church we are partnering with.   Shopping in Mexico without knowing Spanish is not daunting to him.  He loves it!   I am spending time with the young man.  I think he’s feeling a little better, but is not all the way better in my mind, yet.  I am baking brownies for snack tonight, and was able to catch a little wifi from the base.  I trust he will be better soon, but we didn’t want him off the base today, or left here alone.  As if!  So, I’ve had a nice time getting to know him a bit, and hopefully he’s as comfortable as he can be.  I’m looking forward to tomorrow, and so is he.  We both have high hopes that we will both get to join in the action tomorrow!

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