Here are the thoughts of a girl in the midst of a crazy journey, the adventures & memories, the moments of joy & the struggles, laughter & the tears. And in this pursuit of truth & a full life, finding grace and utter beauty. For this is where life is lived...
Well, this trip in probably my favorite weekend all year long. I know that part of my heart is always going to be with this incredible community in Puerto Penasco, Mexico; I feel like I am going home as we drive further and further from my stable and convenient life here in the United States into this broken, poor community that somehow has so much love, so much strength, so much faith... And getting to share this incredible experience with people that I live life with and love deeply is another solid reason that somehow after each of these few short days down here, I am changed. Each experience has been different depending on the family we are building for, where their land is and who comes with us - and each trip has its own really special moments, this trip was really different and incredibly special for so many reasons! And each time I walk away with my heart full to overflowing, with my soul at peace; and with this burning desire to spend my life living and serving alongside people that are forgotten, that are living with a hope and a prayer and little else.. But I'm getting ahead of myself! Here's the run down of the trip with some of my favorite pictures (first time using my new camera on big trip like this and I think I got some good ones!) and then we'll get to my heart..
Started off the trip the night before with a sleep over with Britni, Sammy and Ashley and then Sammy and had a midnight (really 2am) craving and went to get Wendy's and talked for the next few hours! Something so incredible about conversations in the middle of the night - maybe being a 'night person' has something to do with it! We met up with everyone at Hastings at 3:30am to head on down - the first of the many dance parties, lots of excited screams and the overwhelming feeling of excitement for what we were embarking on! Many, if not most, of the people on the trip had never been before and this brought a sweet fresh new perspective for us old timers! Got on the road about 4am and the excitement was replaced temporarily with exhaustion for most of our crew. Though I had plans to fall asleep, something about driving and talking while waiting for the sun to come up calms my soul and Britni and I had some sweet time together on the way to Phoenix! Stopped at Einsteins and got delicious coffee and bagel and got on the road again and got to take some sweet shots of the sunrise on our way to Gila Bend!
And of course, everywhere there is a group of Flag Young Life people you can pretty much guarantee there is going to be music and a dance party so there were lots of those throughout the weekend! We got help up at the border for a while and so we definitely had a dance party with music blaring 50 feet from the U.S. and Mexican border - got some funny looks from the border patrol but it was worth it!
Puerto Penasco is about an hour and a half in to Mexico once you cross the border and so by this point - we are all ready to be out of the cars and going crazy so lots of ridiculous conversations and inside jokes evolve! We finally get down to our campsite at about 2:30pm and rush to change and set up camp and go meet our family! The campsite is a little outside the town and I'm bouncing in my seat with excitement to meet out family and get going on putting up this house! One really sweet bit is that even though we had around 70 NAU/CCC students and adults from our community on the trip with us - we got to be working on the same house all weekend! Usually we have to split up which is a bummer but it was so sweet to have so many of us all together!
The goal for the first day is to get the foundation laid - this time we were actually building 2 houses together so we had double the amount cement to make! Its so sweet the way people jump in wherever is needed - a group went to work at preparing the site to lay a flat and solid foundation, some started sawing and building the walls and roof and the rest started mixing sand, conrete and water to make the cement!
This is our family whose house we got to build! Pascula (the mom), Eduardo (the son), Perla (2 month old baby) and Imelda (the oldest daughter). We only saw the dad briefly in the morning before he headed off to work sealing coconuts in town! Eduardo and Imelda helped us all weekend with many different projects for the house and Eduardo really loved showing off his photo taking and soccer skills!
Below are some pictures of the families lives before we got there. The one on the far left is the clothes line (none of the house in this part of the suburbs of the city have any running water or electricity of any kind). The middle is the towel for washing the baby and the dishes; on the far left is a picture of the side of what they were living in before their new house - rusted metal and rotted plywood.
The bottles on the right are a source of income for the family - when the bottles are returned, you can get money for them. And on the far right - this rusted chair that's a catch all place for laundry, dishes, etc is the only piece of furniture they own.
The crew working hard!
Once we got both sides of the foundation poured, the family got to put their hand prints in the wet concrete. This is one of my favorite moments of the first day - seeing this family mark their home, declare it as theirs and begin to set in a firm foundation their future.. I lost my breath watching how unbelievably excited and full of joy each of their faces were, this incredible sense of confidence, hope and love that overcomes any cultural or linguistic barriers was unmistakeable.. I felt so clearly the smile on the Lord's face in that moment.
Some fun pictures from the end of the day! Exhaustion, coke-a-cola and joy are a crazy mix!
Another fantastic part of our trip is that we got to meet up with Area Director, Alberto Martinez and his lovely wife and some of the volunter leaders with Vida Joven (Young Life in Spanish) there in Puerto Penasco! They welcomed us at the building where they have club and do minitry from - its on the grounds of one of the leaders houses! We brought them dinner and enjoyed yet more coke and yummy food with them, played some ping pong and became family - it was beautiful! They are all so incredible and passionate about the kids in community and it was sucha blessing to hear how the Lord is working; but its also hard to hear how much the kids have to overcome - the lack of hope for the furture and sense of worthlessness of most of the youth not to mention the political and economic difficulties. But Alberto's and the leaders' passion and love for these kids is so prevelant and I know that the Lord has, is and will continue to be working miracles through them! Already we have plans to go back and help them with their weekend camp in a few weeks! (more to come on that!)
Day 1 was unbelievable. It wasn't until were heading back to camp and I was in the back of the truck looking up at the stars with the wind in my face and heart so full that I realized my nap half hour nap on the way down didn't make up for no sleep for 2 days and once back at camp brushed teeth and crawled into my bright green sleeping bag with my face toward the stars and fell asleep with a smile on my face and in my heart.