For years I have been wanting to go on church Missions Trips to be able to help serve and put my Spanish to use, and there seems to have always been something that kept me from going - college, work, babies... So when this Mexico trip came up at church a few months ago it was really on my heart again. After praying about it for a month or two and confirming help with the boys while I was gone, I was able to make plans to join the team from our church and head to Mexico to work!
We were just west of Tecate, Mexico, on a plot of land that was donated by a man who is referred to as the 'grandfather', who owns this and two other mountains behind it. It is to be the home of an orphanage called "Mi Casa Children's Home". On the trip was a group from our church, three men from First Baptist Stockton, and a church group from San Jose there that weekend.
This was a building trip, working on the third of what will be six houses, each to have a set of parents and up to twelve children in them, with the first kids hopefully coming next summer! If you want to know more of the back story about the group (well, the man, really - his name is Ken LaPoint) in charge of this whole project you can read here and see more pictures here. Construction has come a long way in the past several years, with facilities for the churches and visiting groups to stay in and three houses nearing completion.
The trip was an amazing experience, getting to be a part of what is being built there, meeting, playing with, and loving on other orphan children who visited, and having the time to doing something for the benefit of others (that aren't my children!). As the site caretaker, Roberto, told me, this is "just the first of many trips down here for you." I'm hoping that ends up being true!
My mom took care of the boys the first two days while Jimmy was at work. Here they are having fun at the park while I was in the van headed toward the border.
My mom texted when we were driving down and said Caleb wanted to know 'where I was going to sleep and what kind of car I was riding in', so I had someone take this picture for me when we were stopped near San Diego. Such a curious kid. Mind always running, and always lots of questions! :)
Usually the group has tacos brought in from this place, Tacos Dumas, one night, but this year the group went to the taco restaurant instead for dinner after we arrived. Yummy Carne Asada tacos!
Here is the kitchen where we all took turns preparing meals for our group.
And the dining area/common room for hanging out and playing games during our free time.
The first morning we hiked up the rather steep hill to these three crosses that overlook the property of Mi Casa and the surrounding areas. It was really chilly, but neat to see everything from up above.
Looking down on the three houses. The one on the right with the gray roof is where we did work.
Inside of one of the other houses this beautiful mural with the Fruits of the Spirit was covering the entire living room wall. I was told that a woman who used to teach English in Mexico stopped at some point and now goes around to different orphanages in Mexico to paint bright and cheerful wall murals. It will be cool to see if she does one in each house as they are built...
This is house #3, the one we did work on.
Here is what things looked like in house #3 when we arrived...
I learned how to do all kinds of things I never thought I'd have need to learn: Cutting and hanging sheetrock, taping and mudding walls, sanding walls and ceilings, and putting on baseboards. April Nathan and I were quite proud when we successfully measured and cut this piece and it all fit correctly, as it was one of our first attempts with the sheet rocking!
On Friday a group of orphans from an orphanage in Tijuana came for lunch and to play. We had so much fun hanging out with them. They wanted to learn how to play all the card and board games we had, and loved just hanging out with us. One teenage girl named Fernanda took me by the hand and asked me to show here around, where we sleep, where the kitchen is, where we were doing work, etc. Then she looked through all 250 pictures on my phone forwards and backwards, played with some of my kids' apps that don't require internet, and I later saw that she had taken a picture of herself, too! She was a sweet girl.
|This is Luis Angel. As you can see he has a very silly personality.|
|This is Fernanda. :)|
|Though Josh (left) has limited Spanish abilities, he was able to play with these boys and they were understanding the game.|
|This is Ana on the left. I had to explain this game, called 'Strut', to her in Spanish. It has a ton of rules so it was difficult, but she figured it out and sat and played with Christine, despite the minimal verbal communication.|
Most nights we spent our free time playing card games. It was a lot of fun, and you could really tell who the competitive ones are in the group!
|After saturating my hand in paint while trying to remove rollers from the handles...|
|...I decided I might as well put that paint to use for something. Mexico 2013 souvenir :)|
Meanwhile in Lodi Daddy was having fun playing harmonicas with his boys, among many other things. They had a fun and busy weekend without mommy, and the boys did great (thank you Lord!)!