Day 53, Sunday June 16 – This is the second father’s day in a row that Jacin has spent in Tijuana. We thought it would be fun to attempt yet again to get some photos printed for Juan and Alma and deliver them on Father’s Day. We did remember to take the hard drive this time, but it was too big for the photo machine to read. We decided to eat lunch at Applebee’s, where the names of all the dishes were in English, but the descriptions were in Spanish. It was our most expensive meal in a long time. We bumped into the gentleman who custom-made the doors for the church project and visited with him for a while. Our next stop was to be the (free) zoo, but Justice’s stomach didn’t agree so we went back to the base. I worked for a few hours while Jacin transferred Juan and Alma’s photos to a smaller jump drive and attempted yet again to print the photos, only to get there and have the store be closed. Why would it be so difficult? Dinner time rolled around and we were going to prepare a meal and veg, but Dave and Toni came back from shopping and other errands and invited us to deliver a bread donation (complements of Panera) to the Fountain of Hope men’s rehab, which we had yet to visit. So we headed over and met with Fernando, the director, with Jesus interpreting, a young man who had helped us with several projects already, the latest being the church project. We bumped into several men who had helped with the build as well. The rehab is spacious (though mainly outdoors), with a chapel, a well, a workout area (with a few barbells and some resistance bands attached to a tree), a kitchen, and several bunk houses. It was very well kept and the man were relaxing before a hard week ahead. We went to Tacos Casa Blanca (not Justice – still not feeling well), where we were overwhelmed by a very large group of young Americans who had taken over the taco stand. They had come to TJ to build houses as well, which were in the same neighborhood as the house and church we had just helped build. After the mandatory stop at the ice cream shop on the way back to the base, we settled in for an episode of Dr Who with the kids and off to bed.
Day 54 – I stayed behind with the kids as Jacin left to pick up Carlos from Cruisin’ to assist with buying supplies (concrete block, concrete, etc) for the bases of the laundry sinks and cooking area. We are excited to see how it turns out! We had a “staff” meeting at the base over lunch to discuss the upcoming groups, the first a youth group from Calvary Open Bible in Springfield, Oregon, with 30 people, and the second our very own Open Bible Christian Center group from Rapid City! During the meeting, I certainly realized for the first time just how much planning and coordination it takes to make things run smoothly at the base. Afterwards, we picked up Carlos again to help us purchase metal for the cross for the roof of the church we had helped build, then dropped it off at the Cruisin’ body shop. They work with limited tools and materials but with tremendous results. We discussed how much of a blessing it would be to have a new welder and shields donated to the cause. I just happen to know someone who may be able to pull a few strings in that area… We made stir fry for dinner and watched Spiderwick Chronicles (thank you Lord for Netflix and Internet) and headed to bed. The first large group was due to arrive later in the evening, which meant an early morning for Jacin in the kitchen.
Day 55 – After breakfast, all the Puente “staff” lead small groups of the large group from Oregon in some projects around the base – painting over graffiti on a neighbor’s wall, washing all of the chairs in the auditorium, cleaning out a dog run area for Chimbu, etc. It was such a blessing to see them work with such eagerness to bless the Puente Base itself. After lunch, the group headed to Casa Hogar Sion while we helped Amalia clean up the kitchen and dining room and worked on small projects. Then off to Juan and Alma’s for dinner, with Marcial as our translator. (To back up a bit, in case we haven’t mentioned this in an earlier post – Juan and Alma contacted Marcial to find out if we were still in TJ and to invite us to dinner. We asked if we could bring a translator, and since they know Marcial, it was a good match). Alma made mole with chicken and rice, with creamy jello for dessert. The meal was great (although the kids didn’t like it much, but I am proud to say they cleaned their plates!) and it was such a blessing to have actual conversations with them, rather than try to muddle our way through with charades. They are such a sweet, God-fearing family who are so appreciative of the little things. Their children are happy, their home is well-kept, and they are hard workers. Alma gave me some roses from her garden, which graced the dining room at Puente for the next several days. It was difficult to say good-bye, but we knew we would see them at church on Sunday and arranged to sit with them. We have made so many dear friends here that it will be difficult to leave without shedding a few tears. Jacin took a new way home, which nearly required him to engage the 4-wheel drive, but it was neat to see some unfamiliar neighborhoods. Stopped (as always) for ice cream, then off to bed.
Day 56, Wed, June 19 – After picking up Oliver from his church (our translator for the day), we went with the Oregon group to a boy’s ranch, located on a historic Mexican cattle ranch. It currently houses 25 boys ranging 4 – 18 years of age. The place looked like a set right out of a movie, with the big wooden doors with cast iron hinges, a large outdoor cooking area with a brick stove, and cactus decorating the landscape – absolutely astounding. The director mentioned that their washing machine was broken, proof of which was a rather long line of laundry wrapping around the house. The Puente leaders had just gotten a donation directed to the boy’s ranch that would cover the cost of repair, praise God! The youth group played soccer with the boys that were home during the morning session of school, and there were a few little boys to tickle and giggle with for the girls. We headed back to Oliver’s church for a picnic lunch, then off to another facility run by the same director which houses the girls and young children. Here the youth group presented a puppet show and played some games with the kids, and in general just loved on them. It didn’t take long for all the kids to start asking for capuchis (piggy-back rides), even the older girls who had to weigh more than 70 pounds! After a fun-filled day playing with kiddos, the group headed off to the market and we headed back to the base. The group had elected to hold their own Wednesday evening youth service rather than attend Cruisin’, so we took the opportunity to just unwind as a family.
Day 57 – Up early to prepare the last breakfast for the Oregon group. We had the pleasure of getting to know Kirk, the church’s pastor, who had roots in the Rapid City Open Bible church, and he extended an invitation for us to park at their home anytime, which has full hook-ups! He has a great family and it would be a pleasure to get to know them more; perhaps God will arrange this sometime in the future. After they left, we had a busy day turning and cleaning all the rooms and bathrooms to get ready for our home church which was arriving later that evening. Jacin set up one of the portable amps and cranked up Chris Tomlin, and we could hear Amalia and Marcial singing along in Spanish. Pastor Robert from Cruisin’ stopped by to drop off the cross, and we were absolutely amazed. He said his welder asked how good of a job to do, and Robert told him to do it as unto the Lord. Well, he certainly took that request seriously! It was completely painted and ready for installation, completely streamlined with no weld seams visible. It was so much more than we had hoped for! After cleaning the house, we headed to the church to put it on the roof, where we met up with the group of young adults who were building 5 stucco houses in the same neighborhood. It was great to visit with a few of them and just see how God is working to impact so many lives. As we drove away from the church, we kept our eyes on the new cross that we pray will serve as a beacon for those searching for life. We grabbed lunch for the family and Marcial and Amalia and enjoyed a meal of fish tacos (YUM!) with them. Before we knew it, it was time for bed, but as I was finishing up my nightly ritual, I heard the OBCC group arrive, so I quickly snuck across the hall to give some hugs (and receive several that were sent by my mom!). As it turns out, Justice had beat me to it, and it wasn’t long before Jacin even joined us as well. It was hard to go to bed that night, as we were so excited and blessed to visit with people from our church family. We look forward to having more time with them this coming week.
Day 58 – Friday, June 21 – I must say it was difficult to stay and clean up in the kitchen after breakfast rather than attend the morning praise and devotions with OBCC. It was the first day of the house build, and they whipped through a ton of work! All siding and trim was painted, and all four walls and the floor were up. Part of the group left to walk the neighborhood and invite people to the VBS, and the kids and I left after lunch and went back to base with a small group who was in charge of planning the festivities. We helped them navigate through the supplies in the puppet trailer and prepare bags to hand out to the children. A new couple arrived at the base today who will be taking over our “helper” roles when we leave, a retired couple from Indiana, I believe – Ymetta and Andy. We had chicken tostadas at the base for dinner, and after clean up we were able to sit and visit with friends. We also took the nice walk to get ice cream later in the evening, catching up and visiting the entire time. We are getting our tanks filled for sure!
Day 59 – VBS! The team did a great job with the festivities! Dan Bender and Fay Clegg were clowns and kept the kids entertained in between puppet shows, nail polishing, a bouncy castle, French braiding (Justice filled in here), and even a special unicycle presentation followed by some yo-yo tricks by Lucas Clegg. In the afternoon, several of the ladies went shopping for the house, a big group went to an orphanage to play with kids, and Jacin and I stayed with the building group. We had been instructed not to take a job away from anyone in the group, so, since they were progressing so well, we ended up mostly visiting with each other, which was actually nice because we have had virtually NO alone time since we arrived in Mexico. It was difficult, however, not pitching it, but there simply wasn’t anywhere to pitch in. We did help clean up the build site and shuttle everyone back to the base, where we feasted on Tamales for dinner (thanks Amalia!). There was a group who walked to the ice cream shop after the sun went down, but our family stayed behind to visit with friends.
Day 60 – It was an easy morning with a late breakfast and plenty of time to get ready for church. After amazing worship lead by Sammie, the worship leader at Templo Sion, Pastor Christie gave the sermon with Sammie translating for her. Jacin had the pleasure of holding Enoch during the entire service, and he walked around with him and talked to him, praying for him and his family while listening to the sermon. It ended with leaders from Sion coming up front to pray with people, which lead to 30 minutes of spirit-filled prayer and healing. It was fantastic! We had Mike help us say good-bye to Juan and Alma and their family for the last time, which included tears, even from Jacin. Then we headed to Rosarito with the group for an afternoon of shopping and the beach. We split from them to find a taco stand that had corn tortillas (as we found that quite a few had flour only), and we found a great little place called Pollo Feliz, where we feasted on a whole chicken with some grilled onions and jalapeños, spicy salsa and extra spicy guacamole, corn tortillas and corn chips. It was so good! Then we headed to an ice cream shop to cool down our tongues. Justice wanted to find the Veal family so that we could shop with Anna, and God granted her wish. We walked the beach with them and enjoyed their kids playing in the water. Before we knew it, it was time to head back. Dan and Carol Bender had been shopping for pottery and had found several pieces they wanted to take back, so we took them with our pickup and spent a couple of hours collecting their treasures and driving back to base. We did made it back to the base in time for some taco soup, and then we sat and visited with our friends. I was even treated to two foot baths – one by my sweet boy, and another by Toni Broom, who blessed me with her time and her kind words. It was difficult for me to say good night and go to bed, as it has just been so long since I was surrounded by so many lovely women and good conversation.
Day 61 – I have been battling a cold and a frail voice for a few days, and unfortunately both kids woke up with congestion and fatigue today, so we stayed behind while Jacin went with the group on their excursions. I would imagine they will finish the house today, and they were going to take some smaller groups to the AIDS hospice as well as to the women’s rehab. I was bummed to miss these visits, but my kiddos needed rest, and it allowed me time to work on them a bit and hopefully zap whatever was trying to attack their systems. We even climbed into a twin bed together for a nap – it was sweet. Enchiladas are on the menu tonight, and I look forward to hearing about the day when the group gets back. Before they left, Jacin lead us in prayer with the leaders of Puente because Kathy is headed to a conference today, so we had to say our good-byes to her. More tears were shed – it is going to be hard to leave here. Everyone is so wonderful and each has their own strengths, and it is such blessing to see them work together. Kathy keeps hinting that it would be okay for us to stay a little longer so we can have a proper good-bye when she returns, but we will be leaving when OBCC leaves so that we can spend time with our Dads. Kathy is such a sweet woman, with an amazing ability to see the best in everyone. Jacin and I are both hoping that at least a little of that has rubbed off on us.
Well, that’s it for yet another week. I just can’t believe how quickly the time passes here. Before we know it, we will be back in the US, but we pray God will not let us forget our time here, that he will keep TJ close to our hearts and in our minds. We can easily see another trip back here in the Spring, and we are hopeful to be better prepared with our language before that time comes.