Day 48, Tues, June 11 – It was our second big day at the house/church project. We had a large group of men come to help from the men’s rehab, so roofing on the church was done by the end of the day. Justice and I helped Sarai and Reid from Journey church work on trimming the windows and corner of the buildings, while Jacin helped with roof sheeting and sheet rock in the church. Nation tends to help when he is asked, but he also has found friends to play with at nearly every place we visit. I also forgot to mention to Jacin what I blessing I encountered the day before with him: There was a young homeless man who was trying to sell shorts to the group. None of us had any money along because we were there to work, but we offered him water. As I was painting, Nation went over to talk with him (he is the most fearless as far as trying to communicate is concerned, and the locals really seem to enjoy him). I kept an eye on the situation, as any mother hen would, and before I knew it, there was my little man with his hand on the man’s shoulder, and I could see that he was praying for him. It was a sweet sight! By the end of the day, Jacin’s elbow was screaming and my grip strength was failing. Our bodies definitely aren’t used to this type of work (anymore, in Jacin’s case). It was a long hot day, and we all crashed fairly hard after dinner and a shower.
Day 49 – Justice and I helped Sarai caulk the windows, and Jacin helped Dave Phillips organized the work truck (not a small task) while the Journey team finished roofing the house (with the help of the rehab guys again) and taped and mudded the inside of the church and house. The women of the church we were building for provided lunch, which was zucchini stuffed with a meat sauce. It was fantastic! Our family ended up leaving early that day as there were just too many bodies and not enough tasks left to help with. After dinner, we worshipped with the Cruisin’ for Jesus church and were blessed by a “sermon” presented by the Pastor from Lifehouse, Pastor Brian (translated into Spanish for the rest of the congregation by our good friend Carlos from Cruisin’).
Day 50, Thursday, June 13 – Jacin and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary by taking a trip to Mexico (and……done). We headed back to the project to help with painting the interior of the church along with some last-minute touch up. As Journey church was working on completing the buildings, Lifehouse church held a vacation bible school program for the neighborhood kids with the new puppet trailer! It was such a blessing to see it being put to use, and being able to witness all of the children learning about Jesus. After VBS, we headed to the associate pastor’s house (Daniel) for another home cooked meal, which was a spicy soup with chicken, pork, and hominy. We were even treated to live music provided by the Pastor’s daughter and Daniel’s son. We ate inside a building that is on the back of Daniel’s property, currently being used as the meeting spot for the church. He showed us a spot in the floor where he had recently fallen through during a worship service as he was jumping while praising. The concrete floor of the new building will be more sturdy for all of their spirit-filled dancing! Daniel said that once the church has moved into the new building, he and his wife plan to turn the old location into a home for women in need. Once again, we ended up leaving early once the only job left was to paint the inside of the house. We gave Amalia a ride to her first bus stop and headed to Walmart with the intention to have some pictures printed for Juan and Alma. But, just like the last two previous times we’ve attempted this, we forgot the hard drive at the base. It’s a good thing we will be here for a while yet. 🙂 We had dinner at the base, then joined both groups and the entire church in a dedication ceremony in the new church building. Pastor Robert from Cuisin’ for Jesus was our translator for the evening. It was truly an honor for us to be present at the first service held there! After some great worship followed by cake and coffee, we headed home to crash for the night. Nation was complaining about being itchy, and we found several bites all over his body. Chalking it up to mosquitos or some other friendly biter, we slathered him with some lotion and turned to dreamland.
Day 51 – We joined the Lifehouse church for a trip to the AIDS hospice. This place is truly amazing. They receive no government support, so are just funded by donations. They generally have anywhere between 80-100 patients in all different stages of the disease. While the Lifehouse group held a short worship service, Jacin and I had the pleasure of visiting with Rick Lopez, a resident of the facility who lived most of his life in San Diego. He has been battling the disease for many years, and was very up front with us regarding his life and the mistakes he’s made, and how some of us need to have a decent smack on the head before we pay attention to God. His faith is strong, and he seemed hopeful, even while he shared stories of all the people he’s met in the center that have gone to be with the Lord. The disease can affect everyone so differently, and often times a person who is feeling strong one day will take a quick downturn and be gone within a few days. Rick told us how lonely many of the residents are, partially because there is still much discrimination in Mexico against infected people due to lack of education. His family visits once a month, but we could tell he misses them. We look forward to seeing him again when we visit with the Rapid City Open Bible church next week. This is yet another ministry in which we wish we could invest more time and help in some meaningful way. We will be praying that God shows us just how we can best do that. Back at the base, I spent the afternoon working while the rest of the family helped around the base (the two church groups headed to the beach for rest of the day). Jacin drove Amalia home, and on the way they stopped at several hardware stores to purchase a couple of concrete washtub sinks for Cruisin’ for Jesus. (I cannot remember if we’ve mentioned this yet, but these men cook over a fire outside and do their laundry in buckets because the cost of electricity is extremely high here. We had been praying for a way to bless them, when we came across some fantastic sinks at a local Marketeria that have a washboard on one side and a nice deep basin on the other. We were unable to have them priced the day we saw them, so thought we would just run it by the Pastor for approval and figure the rest out later. Amalia was an angel and did some shopping around for us on her way home the day before to find us the best deal.) We delivered the sinks just before dinner and had a chance to visit with Pastor Robert in more detail. His history is one of drugs and alcohol, and his heart is truly for the men who are there to get clean. He told us that while the cost of electricity is a driving factor for not having more amenities at the home, it is also a very humbling experience for the men to have to wash their clothes in buckets and prepare their food over a campfire. He wants them to appreciate everything that they once had but gave up for drugs. The men there are simply incredible and we have been blessed getting to know them more and more each week as we worship with them and feed the homeless with them. Jacin made plans to pick Carlos up on Monday and take him to get materials to build a base for the sinks, as well as a new base for the cooking area. We finished our evening with quesadillas from a stand near the base, followed by a few games of pool with the Journey team. Nation complained again about being itchy when climbing into bed, so we looked him over and realized there seemed to be more bites than the day before. I looked up pictures online and was not pleased to conclude he had gotten into a patch of fleas during our week at the build site (he played in several dirt holes and was running around with kids the whole time, and bugs just seem to find his marshmallow skin too tempting!) I decided not to share the lovely news with him until I could confirm my conclusion with Amalia the next day, but I mixed some eucalyptus with some lotion and slathered it on (I have no idea how I would survive without the internet).
This is the laundry and kitchen for the ministry “Cruising for Jesus, Tijuana”. We asked if a washtub sink would help, they are so cheap, they now will have two. This lead to them telling us they want to improve the kitchen with a concrete block grill, so Monday we are going to pick up the materials for this. This ministry is special to us, as Pastor Robert (in the red) and Carlos (an ex L.A. gang member) have really touched our kids. They have incredible stories of kicking drug habits through Christ. They continue to pull men of the streets who want to get clean. The living conditions are terrible, but Pastor Robert explains that as he learned in the US Marines, they gave up great lives to drugs. He wants them to be reminded of the wives and children they abandoned to habits that put them in poverty. There are great stories of wives forgiving them and taking them back. This is possibly the most life changing ministry we have seen.
Day 52 – Saturday, June 15 – Jorge from the orphanage (Casa Hogar Sion) called at 6:15 wondering when Jacin was going to arrive so they could start pouring the concrete. We had been so busy all week and Jacin was so worn out that he had forgotten to touch base with Jorge to get a time figured out, but we honestly didn’t expect them to be ready to start so early! After stripping several beds to wash away any lingering fleas, we helped Amalia in the kitchen and bade our new friends farewell as they headed home, and by the time we got to the orphanage, the project was basically done. A great group of boys from the home were helping several men with the mixing and pouring, and we were lucky enough to witness a few dunkings into the water tank. They did such a great job, and we were so thrilled that they just took charge and got it done. We played with the toddlers a babies a bit before heading back to the base (with many of them crying when we left – so heart breaking!). After returning to the base, we found that Amalia had already stolen our laundry pile and remade our beds (she is constantly taking care of us, even though we ask her not to; I don’t think she knows how NOT to serve others). I showed her Nation’s bites and she basically told us they were from fleas, or at least we are pretty sure that is what she said. There was something in her words about dogs, being at the church building site, other kids, and lots of other words we didn’t quite figure out, but she gave us some Benadryl tonic out of the first aid kit to help with the itching. She didn’t seem too concerned, so we have decided not to be, either. Angel, Amalia’s grandson, showed up to play with Nation, so while the boys had another water balloon fight, Justice and I headed up the street to the local flea market (thought not to buy fleas, because we already have some of those). It was like garage sale heaven for us, as we dug through piles of clothes (all in very good, like-new condition) and found a few shirts we couldn’t live without. After spending 68 pesos on 7 items (roughly 75 cents a piece), we went back to base and have been vegging with the family since. Jacin is pretty wiped out and looking forward to a few days “off” without groups at the base.
Its hard to see in the photos, but the old concrete was rough, unlevel and had a lot of steps in it. For babies and toddlers learning to walk, this was a mess. They now have a large, flat, nice area to play in. They even set posts for a screened cover to cut down the sun and heat. The hope is that groups seeing this improvement will donate to do the next slab, which is worse, but wasn’t where the toddlers play.
Until next time…