Blast From The Past: Mexico 2007

Here’s my journal from our Mexico mission trip in February 2007:

“Si el Señor no edifica la casa, en vano trabajan los que la edifican.”

Salmos 127:1

“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.”

Psalm 127:1

February 18, 2007
on the bus

We’re on our way. It’s so early (7:10) and COLD. I’ve tried to look at this trip without any preconceived notions or expectations. Right now, I’m fighting the urge to compare this trip to the last one. I’m trying extra hard to avoid saying “the last time, we…” I’m so excited about this trip. We have an amazing group going. It’s almost like we’ve taken the core of our high school students this week. If memory serves, the vast majority of the group consists of first timers. I can’t say enough about how thrilled I am about the group we have going.
on the plane

Once we figured out where Wayne could take the bus to drop us off, everything went smoothly. At the check-in counter, we saw Coach Richt and his wife Katharyn; they spoke to us for a minute and asked where we were going. They were extremely friendly and gracious. We were at the gate early enough to be able to sit and relax a bit before we had to board. The flight has been nice, if a little choppy. I still enjoy flying; it doesn’t get old to me. Greg mentioned to me that after his trip to India, he’s sick of flying. One thing I’ve always wished for is some sort of map to know what we’re flying over. I’d love to know what’s below us. We’ll have a short layover in Dallas, and then we’ll board the flight to El Paso.

February 19, 2007

After we got to the church in El Paso, a few of us went to Wal-Mart to pick up supplies and stuff for the week; we got done in good time and well under budget. Then we went to Cici’s for supper. There was a group from Boston already at the church (we knew we might have to share); they were friendly and know Jason. Once we settled in for the night and turned the lights out, a group from North Dakota came in, turned on all the lights, and talked loudly while they brought their stuff in. Then, at 4:00 in the morning, they turned on all the lights again to get ready to leave! I couldn’t get over how inconsiderate these people were.
Driving over the border, I was stunned by the poverty, even having seen it before. This time, we’re building in a neighborhood, close to a semi-nice, state-run subdivision. Today, we got the foundation poured and most of the walls built, and a massive wind came along with ensuing sandstorms. I’ve never experienced anything like it. Andy put it best when he said, “sand sucks!” Once we got back to the church here in Juárez, we ha supper and got to meet the pastor, who is American. We’ve had a good evening, and a great day all around, even though I’m pretty sore.

February 20, 2007

The second day is when the most work gets done, when all the parts start to come together to look like a house. I got to do some thing I had never done on a mission trip. I spent a good chunk of the day helping Dave with carpentry work building roof trusses after we put the walls up. Later on, I got to work on putting the roof on the house. On the roof, the wind was stronger and colder, although there was little or no wind to speak of. Now all that’s left to do tomorrow is stucco and drywall. The family is so excited and eager to get into the house that we are going to have the dedication tomorrow instead of Thursday. We met the children today (Yasmin, 10; Kevin, 8; Jesus, 5; and Jacqueline, 2); they were so adorable. The husband is out of town, so we won’t get to meet him.
Today is Caitlin’s 16th birthday; it’s really cool that she has chosen to spend it here.

February 21, 2007

Today was amazing. We got an early start in the hopes of beating the winds that have plagued us thus far, so we got everything done early. Andy, Jeremy, and I drew stucco-mixing duty, while everybody else either applied stucco or hung drywall. We managed to get most everything done before lunch. Once we finished lunch and some of us visited the convenience store around the corner from the site, we cleaned up and put the finishing touches on the house. We even had a little stucco left, so Jacob Fry and some others mixed the stucco with some more cement and made a step to make it easier to get into the house. After that, we went to the market. It was hilarious to walk around with Jacob Moore and Tara and bargain (or try to get out of bargaining) with the vendors.
Once we got back to the house, we had the most beautiful dedication service. The students had a big part in planning the service earlier in the day. We had a Spanish-language Bible that we all signed, and we read verses, a couple of students and Greg spoke, and Jeremy prayed, all while Yoli translated. The mother and grandmother shed tears of joy (it was hard not to cry myself), and the kids were joyful and grateful. Laura, the mother, invited us to come back and visit; maybe someday I’ll be able to. I’ll never forget Laura and her sweet family.
Back at the church tonight, we’re stuck in the kitchen, waiting for their service to be over.

February 22, 2007
El Paso

We made the spur of the moment decision to go on back over the border last night. Once we loaded up and said our goodbyes to the pastor, we ventured back. It took about half an hour to go through the toll booth and then across the border, and we settled in by 11:30. It felt good so god to be back in the states!
This morning, we did a little work at the
Casas por Cristo

office to help Jason out. We did a couple of jobs for Jason that would have taken his team days to do on their own. He figured it would take us two or three hours to finish the tasks, but we got done in just over an hour. Jason said that by doing what we did, we would have a hand in every house that Casas por Cristo will build this year. That statement alone transformed what on the surface would seem like menial work into a genuine honor.
Jason promised us a hike in exchange for the work, so after lunch at a mall food court, we set out for a park on the Texas/New Mexico border where we would hike to the highest point in Texas. We chose not to walk up the mountain because of a bandit who supposedly robs unarmed tourists on the trail. The park offers police escorts for hikers on Wednesdays and Fridays, so with it being Thursday, the group decided to head back. Instead, we went on the Wyler Aerial Tramway, where we rode up to mile-high Ranger Peak for a spectacular view. We then killed time at another mall and had dinner at Logan’s Roadhouse. After that, we went back to the church, got our t-shirts, and said our goodbyes to Jason and Amy. We have an early flight, so we have to be up extra early in the morning.

February 23, 2007
on the plane

I can’t really even begin to say what this trip meant to me. Going back to the comparisons I was loathe to make earlier in the week, it was far and away superior to the last trip I made here. We couldn’t have had a better team, and the interaction with the family made the work so much more meaningful. I’m grateful to God (first and foremost), to the team, to Jason and Amy, to Casas por Cristo, and to everyone who helped make this trip a reality.