Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Humanitarian Work in Mexico

We have had great experiences going on humanitarian trips with Charity Anywhere. This year was the first time we’ve taken Maria and Joseph with us. We were also joined by our dear friend Mike Madsen and his son Bridger. We crossed the border in the afternoon and had about 30 minutes to look for trinkets before Gordon of Charity Anywhere picked us up. We made our way to a taco bar and had some amazing tacos. We all ate to our hearts content, and they were really good!


Then we went to a store and bought some food for a struggling family; we were able to go down to their house and visit with them. It was an extremely humble home and I was very glad that we could bring some good cheer to them.

We went to the elderly home where we would be saying and got situated for a couple of minutes and turned around to Rick Valdez’s school. Rick is a guy that we helped served before and he is now teaching English to lots of elementary school students. They put on a performance and we were able to make some good friendships with them.

We went back to the senior center and went to bed. Saturday we were up early, and went on a walk to the bread store where Levi, Annemarie and I went to last year. We had some tasty food, and then to our surprise, a car came driving by selling tamales; we bought several. Delicious! Gordon arrived and we went to the Catholic school to do some repair work on their fence. They were so happy and gracious; some people worked on the fence, some people played with Rick’s students and practiced English with them, I went with Gordon and bought more supplies and worked out some of the logistical details that we would need to overcome later in the day.

The nuns invited us to lunch; it was totally delicious; we went into their kitchen afterwards and they showed us how to make it. Mike, Bridger and Lani moved on to our next worksite, while I stayed and helped everyone finish the fence. Levi worked exceptionally hard and did most of the fence himself.

At the end, Madre Lupe (the nun who is the director of the school) came and gave a great message to all of our kids. She spoke in Spanish and I translated. She talked about how the Lord loves a cheerful giver and was very grateful that we would take a break from our lives and come and serve. She said that she hoped the experience would make us feel grateful for the things the we have. It was a good, touching moment. Maria asked me on the side, “What is a Catholic?” and it was a good teaching opportunity.

The next house was a touching place to be. There were 10 people living in a three-room home. The bathroom was very small and dirty, and only was separated from the main room by a curtain and a rod. The kitchen (which you walk through the get into the main room) was about 5 feet by 15 feet and contained a small stove and a sink. But there was no running water in the sink; they would have to get water from an outside faucet. The main room had seven beds, which took up half the room. The walls for the most part had no sheet rock; you just saw 2x4s and plywood. We helped build a wall so that there was a partial partition between some of the bed and the main room. We also put up sheet rock on more of the house to provide better insulation. Everyone did a lot of actual work, except for Lani and Joseph who focused their efforts on loving and conversing with others (a different kind of work and equally important!) The place looked much better than we left. We also bought a bunch of food for them; they hugged Lani like crazy when we left. I feel bad for them, they really are living in some serious poverty.

I was talking with the grandmother and felt prompted to ask her if she had been praying for help. She said that they had been. I told her that this was part of the answer to her prayer, and that God had more blessings in store for her as she worked more to exercise her faith and participate in church. It was wonderful to feel like we had been a part of somebody’s answers to prayer.
We went to a dinner at a church; more amazing food and went home. Everybody was beat from all of our work; we fell asleep quickly. The next morning we  saw the horses who are stabled at the old folks home, went on a little walk, and had a nice breakfast. Then we were off to church where we sang a special musical number and really enjoyed worshipping with the saints.
Gordon was so gracious and drove us across the border. It was a short trip, but one that will remain in our hearts. We are already looking forward to going back.

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