Mexico? Sure! Tijuana….to build houses…40 men….no electricity – are you crazy? That is what went through my head when someone from Chapel Hill asked if I would be joining the Men’s Group this year for the Mexico Mission Trip. Me on a Mission? Never…or at least that is what I thought.
I first heard about the trip early 2012 during service one day and it kind of went in one and out the other (you know how that goes). Then one day, something hit me and I started to ask a few questions about the trip. I was careful to not show too much interest…didn’t want someone to think I was actually considering going on this 5-day trip. I thought what Amor Ministries was doing to help these families was fantastic. I heard from several men who have made the trip before said the team from Amor was amazing and the families are told that God is sending group of men from Gig Harbor, WA to build a house for them. Cool, right? The more I looked into it and the more people I spoke with, it started to seem like a great, rewarding opportunity. However, I had reasonable excuses why I couldn’t go…having to burn vacation days….missing out on photo sessions….a wedding….spending time with family….the cost…the list went on and one.
Looking back on my time in Tijuana, one thing was clear. Though there were 20 reason’s why I couldn’t go – there was (and will always be) one reason why I went. Thing is…I didn’t know it beforehand.
After an uneventful flight from Seattle to San Diego and a short (but welcomed snooze at a hotel close to the border, we gathered and headed to our meet one of the Amor representatives who would then escort us into Mexico.
Once we crossed the border we headed out to meet the family our team was assigned. Almost an hour later we arrived to three young toddlers jumping up and down like they were old men at the tracks watching Sea Biscuit back in the day. What a grand welcome to the Baltazar Garcia family home! We started the day clearing an area for their new home. It would also have been nice to give a workman’s whistle and have the cement truck back up and start pouring. Ohhh, that would have been too easy. We shoveled from a large pile of clumped sand and sifted (and sifted, and sifted) to get fine material. Add a little cement mix, water, a pinch of fiberglass (which I still have no idea what that would really do) and voilà – we had cement.
It wouldn’t be a cement pouring party if we didn’t let the new family put a little scribble into the drying goo. Chad added a little Chapel Hill love with John 3:16.
Our Mission was to to not only build houses, but to spend time connecting with the families…and boy…did we ever connect.
Camp was another story. A beautiful, solitary area that surprising felt very peaceful. That is until you heard grown men screaming after taken their end of the day showers (sans hot..okay, warm water). You would take a bucket of water from the bins outside the shower area, pour the water into a jug hanging above and shower away. The toilets were lined up like a locomotive at the station.
Day two is framing day. If I never see chicken wire again it would be too soon. That said, I am secretly waiting to do this again on the ’13 Build Trip. After framing came stucco. We found time later in the day to hang with the family. Mark entertained the family (and us) with his bag pipes. It was awesome seeing so many people from neighboring houses come out and over to watch him play. Even more special for the kiddos is when he let them take a stab at playing.
We LOVED all of the smiling faces!
Chad and Ellis felt the need to show a little arm bumps.
Three (okay, 2 very long) days of hard work and gettin’ our dirt on, and their new home was complete.
Our time went fast and in the end, looking at the expressions on the faces of the families during the key ceremony was emotional for all of us.
I will sincerely miss our time in Tijuana and cannot wait to do again again next year.
More pictures can be found at http://gigharborphoto.zenfolio.com/mexico2012