Day 35, May 29

Buenos Dias!  Today was a busy day.  Jacin was in the kitchen by 5:30, before Amalia even arrived (which is difficult to do!).  He helped with breakfast and lunch preparations, and the kids and I slept in yet again.  They are growing and need their rest, so I am more than willing to let them have it.  However, I am not sure what my excuse is.  There is only one way to grow at my age, and I am not interested, thank you very much!

We met the women and children from the Georgia group at the Dibujando orphanage to play with the kids before they headed off to their afternoon schooling.  After lunch, we returned to the orphanage to paint the dining room and kitchen.  We were thankful to have the Georgia women with us, because we would not have finished today without their help.  We are all pretty tired, but we plan to attend the Cruisin’ for Jesus service tonight as we did last week.  We absolutely love the guys there and want to support them any way we can.

Thanks to everyone for your prayers.  We are truly blessed to be seeing the inner workings of the ministry here at Puente de Amistad, and we are just praying that God will use us where he needs us.  We truly don’t know how long we will be here, and honestly we could stay forever and never feel like we’ve done enough.  But God knows, and we are trusting him with our time and finances.

Dios les Vendiga (God bless you all)!

Advertisements

Days 33 and 34

It has been a jam packed couple of days.  Yesterday (Day 33) we basically finished sorting, cleaning, and organizing the new puppet trailer.  There are so many wonderful “tools” for ministry, aside from the 69 puppets.  There are costumes, games, bubbles – everything you need for a big neighborhood fiesta!  The Georgia group may use it this Friday to celebrate the end of their water line project.

Kathie and Toni took us to a huge wholesale outdoor market where we picked up 100 lb bags of rice and beans for a local ministry (more about it below).  You could buy just about anything there – meat, produce, spices, candy, clothing, etc.  One of my favorite sections had bins full of dried herbs, perfect for making custom mixed herbal teas, if only I knew more about the proper proportions and concoctions.

Later, Marcial took Jacin to a local repair shop to have the Tundra’s tires rotated.  I cost 100 pesos, or roughly $8.50.  The truck also has a “thump in its giddy-up” (please excuse the female description; there are so many GIGANTIC speed bumps here, and you can hear a thump every time we go over them), but it wasn’t the quick and easy fix Jacin was hoping for, so we will have to figure out how to handle it when we get back to the states.

Puente de Amistad ministers each Monday evening to homeless people at a place referred to as El Mapa.  This is where anyone who is deported and bussed out of the US is dropped off.  Often these people end up living there, in whatever makeshift “houses” they can gather together.  The majority of them end up using drugs and alcohol to numb the realities of being destitute.  There is a local rehabilitation house called Cruisin for Jesus (whose church we attended last Wednesday evening) who ministers to these men on a weekly base as well, feeding them and telling them about Jesus.  They encourage men to give up the drugs and alcohol and come home with them, where they use prayer and support to detox.  They provide bunks and clothing, as well as food (that they depend on God to provide) to the men.  In exchange, the men are contracted to work (many of whom have training in construction trades) for the community at a reduced rate, and the money they earn goes into the pool to support the entire ministry.  Cruisin’ for Jesus supplies several men each week to accompany Puente to El Mapa.  Last night we (along with the Puente leaders and the Georgia group) attempted the weekly trip, but several blocks were shut down (we heard rumors of murders earlier that day near the area we were going to serve, though this hasn’t been confirmed), so after an hour and a half trying to get out of the traffic, we finally got to the hospital and fed the needy there.  Often, when people are checked in to the hospital, their family cannot afford to stay anywhere, so they sleep in their cars out on the street.  For instance, we met a mother last night whose son had been in the hospital for the last 4 months.  She was with her young daughter, staying wherever she could.  Along with these unfortunate people, we were able to feed several homeless people who happened to be in the area while we were there.  It did not take long to clean out 150 hot dogs and oranges.  We were able to pray with people and minister to them, just loving them and assuring them that God was with them in their need.

Day 34

Jacin was up early for the second morning in a row helping Amalia with her breakfast and lunch preparations for the group.  Amazingly, the kids and I haven’t even heard people moving about, and we get up only to find the house almost empty.  It has been interesting sleeping so hard!  We did some more cleaning and basic maintenance around the base.  As it turns out, money that comes through Puente de Amistad is generally earmarked for other local ministries (which is truly the point of the ministry), so we are constantly finding that tools, kitchen items, cleaning, items, etc, are old, broken, or otherwise outdated.  We picked up a few things today for the base as we were out shopping for Juan and Alma.  Jacin took Justice back to the wholesale market in an attempt to pick up 50 lb bags of rice and beans for Juan and Alma.  They found out pretty quickly, though, that as soon as the vendors realized they couldn’t communicate well, the price increased – they were going to be charged as much for the 50 lb bags as we were charged for the 100 lb bags the day before.  So, they ended up finding a better deal at a local Sam’s Club.

We later dropped off the 100 lb bags of food (complements of Justice), along with donations of bread and eggs from Puente, to the Cruisin’ for Jesus rehab.  It is basically a small plot of dirt in a neighborhood with a few building on it.  The men have an outside shelter under which they cook over a wood fire, and just behind this is their makeshift laundry room – six buckets of water and a few ropes for clothes lines.  Carlos, who assisted with the feeding the night before, gave us the quick tour.  He has quite a story of his own:  he was a gang-banger in LA until he was put in jail and eventually deported.  It was through the Cruisin’ ministry that he came to know Christ.  Now he commits his entire life to helping others find their way.  He has three daughter in the US that he sees every now and then, and as hard as that must be, he is thankful every day for the way things turned out simply because he now knows the Lord and he is able to do God’s work here helping men who are walking in the shoes he took off not so long ago.  He is truly a blessing to be around.

After the Cruisin’ delivery, we made yet another stop at a shopping center to pick up shoes for Juan Sr.  We also grabbed a few shirts and other clothing items for Alma, just to bless a mother who puts the needs of her family first.  We also grabbed some eggs and fruit, then headed to their house.  We went through another round of charades, trying to communicate.  The kids never have a problem, as play time doesn’t seem limited by the language barrier.  Alma gave us a card when we left, basically voicing their gratitude (although I haven’t translated the whole card yet :)).  They are such a loving family with amazing smiles, and as hard as it must be to accept things they cannot always afford on their own, they did not seem embarrassed, but just grateful.  We have grown to love them so much, we could adopt them (perhaps we already have).  We plan to stay in better touch with them after we’re gone, and we hope to return again, with better Spanish under our belts, and be able to visit with them and really get to know them.

IMG_9818.1            IMG_9829.1

IMG_9827.1            IMG_9824.1

(These pictures do not do this family justice.  They have some of the most amazing smiles!)

Last, we headed back to the base to help with dinner for the Georgia group.  Amalia never ceases to amaze us with her abilities to cook food for large groups of people.  It was also one of the group’s men’s birthday today, and she made a cake for him (with Justice on frosting duty).  After dishes, and some dishes, and then a few more dishes, we are headed to bed, looking forward to another early morning (at least for Jacin), and a busy day at Casa Hogar Dibujando Sonrisa.

Have a blessed night!

Day 32 – Seeing the need…

First let me please mention that there is much to be done here, but our resources, as well as those of Puente de Amistad, are limited.  We have had a few people ask about helping, so if you feel lead to help monetarily with anything we mention in our posts, or something else altogether, please feel free to contact us directly and we will let you know how you may be able to help.

Our day started with preparations for the group that arrived today from Georgia.  Amalia had Jacin make snicker-doodle cookies, and then he was on cleaning duty for the next hour or so.  I pitched in a little after getting ready for church, and we are pretty sure she could have kept us busy all day had we not told her we would be late for church.  We attended Templo Sion, the home church of Juan and Alma and their family, as well as the kids from Casa Hogar Sion (orphanage).  The worship was amazing!  We were familiar with most of the songs, and tempting as it was to sing along in English, they projected the words on the wall, so we did our best to sing in Spanish.  It was so humbling to watch the congregation worship with complete abandon, some kneeling on the tile floor simply because they were overcome by the presence of the Holy Spirit.  We often feel (self-inflicted) restraint at home, perhaps because we know everyone and feel as though we are supposed to act a certain way, or perhaps because we simply cannot detach from the worries of life and truly focus on God as we should.  Regardless of the reason, it is so refreshing to be truly broken before the Lord.  We understood maybe .02% of the sermon, but Jorge (the director of the orphanage) was so passionate we could not help but be moved.

Church ran later than expected, so we quickly communicated with Alma that we would have to visit later in the afternoon.  We headed out to the project the Georgia team will be working on – putting in water supply lines for a makeshift colony that was forced to move from their location near a government canal project.  Aleazar, the outreach minister of the colony, has been working for the last couple of years to educate children and feed the needy, and he is currently working on an elderly ministry, as well as setting up a beauty school for the young women so they can obtain employment. 

Running late, we rushed over to Juan and Alma’s to deliver the shoes and baby supplies.  Juan was home, so he and Jacin attempted communication (with lots of gestures), while the kids played and Alma and I enjoyed watching them.  We convinced them to tell us of their personal needs, so we will be heading to the store again to pick up a few more items (shoes for Juan Sr and groceries).  True to a mother, Alma did not request anything for herself, so we are praying that God will show us just the right thing to bless her with.

We then headed over to the orphanage (Sion) to deliver a load of toys that Nation bought for them, and to see what needs we may be able to help with.  They have several buildings on their property that house different ages of children (97 in all).  We were able to see everything and meet several of the children.  Jorge showed us the project he is most concerned with – leveling the concrete pad in front of the infant and toddler house so that they have a safe place to play.  He also wishes to put a roof over the area to keep it shaded.  Our quick estimate is $600 just for the concrete (we will be using the young men living at the orphanage to help with labor, both mixing and pouring).  We are in prayer about this project, as our finances are limited for buying supplies. We want to be able to help with more than this one project, so will have to budget time and money to have the most impact.

We headed back to base to eat and see what was needed of us. We had a visit with Oliver, a missionary pastor from Peru, currently working in Mexico.  Justice and Jacin met him last year while here, and it was great to reconnect with him. Off to bed, as we have to be up early to help with food for the day, before working on one of the projects on our list. 

Day 31

It was a down day for us, as there are two teams coming in back-to-back starting tomorrow that will keep the base busy.  We brought some gifts for the family whose house Jacin and Justice helped build last year, so we decided to attempt an unassisted visit.  It went well for not being able to speak the language much at all.  Juan and Alma have three children:  Juan Jr, who is about 7, Lizette, around 5, and their newest addition, Enoch David, who is roughly 5 months old.

kids with Juan and Lizette       Danielle with Alma and Enoch

We played with the kids and their new toys for a little while, then played charades with Alma to try to figure out what the kids might need.  The only real question I was able to ask without too much smoke out of my ears was, “What time is church tomorrow?”, so we could meet with them again.  We then headed to the store to pick up diapers and other baby supplies for Enoch, and school shoes for Juan Jr and Lizette.  Alma had given us US shoe sizes, but the first two stores we hit listed only Mexican sizing.  The sales staff didn’t speak much English, either, but we were able to at least figure out comparative sizing.  Of course, when we finally found a shoe store with a good selection, they had US sizing.  After a couple of hours struggling to communicate, we truly appreciated the need to work on our Spanish.

At the shopping mall we saw a first: kiddie rides that weren’t attached to anything.  The children would sit on a large stuffed animal with wheels and drive it around like a 4-wheeler.  This mall definitely catered to a different class of people than we have been with so far on our trip.

animal rides at mall 2

We then headed south to Rosarito for a quick touristy visit.  We didn’t consider that the Memorial Day holiday would bring so much traffic into Mexico, and that along with an art festival resulted in very busy streets.  Justice picked up a few gifts for friends in the alley markets, and we decided we’d had enough dickering for one day.  We headed back to Tijuana in a different direction than we came down, and poor Jacin had me to navigate, using only partial cell phone maps and streets with no signs, or with names different from those on the maps.  We are lucky that God put a GPS in his brain, because we would not have made it home otherwise.

It’s been a long day and we are headed to our twin bunk beds to hunker down for the night.  Thank you for your prayers!

Day 30 – Our first birthday on the road…

It’s official!  It’s May 24th, Jacin’s 41st birthday!  We celebrated by eating from local taco stands in Tijuana for two meals, and then horchata (and a complimentary ice cream) for dessert.  And the highlight was a fantastic traditional birthday song sung by Marcial (not Happy Birthday, aka Feliz Cumpleanos), who surprised us with his heavenly voice.  Truly an unforgettable birthday!

IMG_4822

It was another full day of work.  Jacin helped Marcial finish the trusses for two upcoming building projects, as well as begin measuring and planning for a few projects on base.  The kids and I worked on cleaning out a trailer that is stocked full of puppets, clown costumes, and various games to be used in outreach in local neighborhoods.  The trailer was a donation from another ministry and has sat unused for a few years, so there is much cleaning and organizing to be done.  We anticipate another full day tomorrow of just trailer work.  Over lunch, we were able to practice our Spanish with Marcial.  He is so patient and understanding, which allows us to ask questions that we may not otherwise attempt.

We also had an exciting adventure with the policia.  We were pulled over for looking suspicious, for lack of a better explanation.  Thank the Lord we had Marcial with us!  They asked so many questions, there is no way we could have possibly figured out how to handle it.  The policia patrol the local neighborhood, and they were not yet used to seeing our truck coming and going.  They eventually gave us (Marcial) a direct phone number for the Puente base to call if ever they had any trouble.  I think my elevated heart rate burned off at least one taco!

Days 6 & 7 – from a teen’s perspective…

Well, maybe it’s obvious that I didn’t come up with the title. But she’s right, its my turn! Now you get to know all the things that you wouldn’t otherwise get to.

Starting with day six. We started the day in The Bonneville Salt Flats, that you already know holds world records, so I don’t get to tell you that. All we did that morning was get up and drive…that’s all I really remember, the last few days have been a blur. Well anyway, we drove, and drove, and drove on some of the worst roads we had EVER been on in all of our lives,( and that’s A LOT of years) so, we were ALL on edge! Since Nation and I got bored, we decided to keep ourselves busy with tickling, running around the camper like maniacs,(until we got busted, then we had to sit down and buckle up!), I read and knitted, and Nation played on his iPod. Once, thank goodness it wasn’t more, we almost got run off the road by a carnie. If my father wasn’t such a great driver, then half of our camper would be gone right now. So that made our uneasiness worse. After many, many, long curvy roads, and hours of,’UGGGGGG’ing, we finally made it to our destination, Tahoe City. The night was very relaxing, thank you Jesus. We got to park next to a golf course, on a back road, so it was very quiet.

IMG_9064.1            IMG_9080          IMG_9118.1

Day 7- The next day, we got to walk around, which was great for our butts thanks to the previous day. We had to walk about a block to get to the visitors center, which, as a matter of fact, was less then a block from Lake Tahoe. When we walked down to the shore, Nation and I found the biggest pine cones the we had ever seen. It blew our minds, so we got to take them with. SCORE!

IMG_9014

When we got back, it was time to leave. Driving from Tahoe City to Placerville reminded me a lot of home. Tons of trees. When we were driving by a different side of Lake Tahoe, there was this road I will never forget it: it was going down hill, but it had no sides, so it looked like you were going to fall off the face if the earth! Sadly, we didn’t get a picture. Most of the rest of the day was driving, and the most memorable parts, which were not that interesting were,” How many more miles?” and the answer,” 29″. But that was just from town to town, not to our REAL destination. So we had a lot more miles then I thought we had. My favorite part of the mountain drive was when we got to a town, if you blinked, you missed it. One of the signs said,

“Welcome to Kyburz”, then under it,

“Now leaving Kyburz”, on the same sign! It was the funniest thing on this trip!

To end my post, we got to our destination. That was the best part. We got to stand up!

Thank you for reading, hope you liked it, if you did please comment. We will post again soon. Sincerely, Justice Theis, the teen that likes spending time with her family.

The first post…

Isn’t it funny how you can have glorious plans of how much you will get done in a day, only to get to the end of the day (or several days in this case) and most of your to-do list is still undone? I suppose that is the idea with life now, though. Freedom from to-do lists, loose schedules, and time to enjoy each other. This has been a great experience so far. However, my intention was to start the blog the first day on the road, and several days have passed since that first night.

So what on earth are we doing? Perhaps this is the first you’ve heard of our newest adventure. Have you ever gotten to a place in your life where you begin to question why you are doing  what you are doing? We want to raise our kids to KNOW that there is more to this world than living in the town in which they were born. We want them to find their purpose. But we found ourselves just running daily in the hamster wheel, finding less and less time to spend as a family doing things we enjoy. It’s so easy to get tied up in work, activities, household projects, and all the other things that can tether you. We needed a change. And so we prayed, and God answered. So many doors opened and things started falling into place for us to leave Rapid City in an RV. Jacin started a new career in insurance adjusting, and he will be a storm chaser just as soon as hurricane season hits. And I have figured out how to take my accounting business on the road (hopefully successfully – only time will tell). So, here we are, having left our house and headed to CA for a few scheduled activities, and then on to Tijuana to assist at the Puente de Amistad mission base if time permits before Jacin is deployed to his first storm.

Here’s a quick summary of our first few days:

Day 1 – We left Rapid City around 8:30 at night. The need to start our adventure was too great to spend one more night. We made it to Mule Creek Junction and stayed the night next to a few semis.

Day 2 – We spent a couple of hours organizing the last piles that were thrown into the RV before departing. We made our way just west of Rock Springs, WY, where we stayed in Little America’s parking lot. All meals today were in the RV, even the final meal of dehydrated backpacker’s fettuccine alfredo (which was not a big hit).

Day 3 – We were quickly in Utah. Justice had me (attempt) to take a picture of the Welcome to Utah sign, but true to my abilities, there was a decorative windshield post smack in the middle of the picture. I was saved, however, by the rest area outside of Park City that had a Welcome to Utah sign on site. The kids fed Cheerios to ground squirrels and we hiked around a bit. We made our way to Salt Lake City and visited our first Camping World store, where we picked up a few items we realized we could not live without. To our delight, they had a FREE electric site on their lot, so we took advantage of it for a night. There was also an RV park down the road that allowed us to dump and fill our water tanks, so we made it out of Salt Lake City with very little expense. We spent the afternoon downtown in Temple Square, enjoying the gardens and the visitor’s center. We toured Brigham Young’s houses and had lunch at a quaint little café in one of them.

IMG_8668.1

Day 4 – Up “early” to catch the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s 4,363rd live recording of their weekly “Music and the Spoken Word” program. It’s the longest continuous broadcast program in the world. It was pretty powerful to be in the presence of so many talented musicians, not to mention the pipe organ with over 11,500 wooden pipes. Even the kids were impressed. We then toured the Clark Planetarium (for FREE!), where we saw a moon rock and meteorites, as well as an audio kinetic sculpture (essentially a giant marble maze). After a Mediterranean lunch, we headed to Liberty Park for Earth Fest where we enjoyed the outdoors and some local music along with fun hippy craft booths. A highlight for the kids was the tiniest dog we have ever seen, maybe six inches tall. We had dinner in the RV, then packed up, dumped and filled once more time, and headed out towards the Bonneville Salt Flats.IMG_8761

Day 5 – We slept in until 8:00! We’ve spent the day on the Bonneville Salt Flats, where the land speed records are set. Nation got to drive 40 mph – pretty lucky for his first driving experience! I worked for a few hours this morning in my PJs, in the middle of the shocking white landscape, while the family toured around a bit to find a post office so Justice could mail her first postcards. The kids have spent the afternoon making art out of salt. And here I am, finally getting to the blog. It has been such a relaxing day, listening to music and enjoying the simplicities of life. I think it will be pancakes and eggs for dinner (with a big WOO-HOO from the kids), and we’ll stay the night here. We don’t know how far we’ll get tomorrow; our next deadline is making a conference by Thursday afternoon near San Jose, CA. Jacin would like to see Tahoe, so perhaps that will be our stopping point tomorrow.IMG_8952.1

I apologize for such a lengthy, not-so-exciting first post. I will try to get more creative as we go along, as well as involve the rest of the family. We’ll make sure the kids post every now and again, as long as you don’t make too much fun of spelling errors. 🙂 Regardless of spelling limitations, our kids are learning so much everyday by experiencing new places and doing new things. We look forward to each day of our adventure.