As you know, Allison and I began our marriage overseas. . .and it has always been in our heart to bring the love of God outside our country--even as we have spent the last decade here in Washington. It has also always been important to us to let Elliott and Emerson have opportunities to learn and connect with people of all walks and culture. So working with an team of great people called "Homes for Hope" in Ensenada, Mexico who build houses for families was a huge blessing in for us. These trips are a huge blessing for a family with basic needs--but the biggest thing they meet is the need for the tangible love of Jesus.
. . .and now for some pics!
DAY 1: GET THERE
I'm psyched getting up at 3am!. . .Emerson prefers to go incognito as we await our departure flight.
After flying into San Diego, and driving into Mexico (where it took 5 minutes to get through the border), we got to Ensenada--our team had arrived.
It's some times hard to believe that I've been going to this church for soooo long--35+ years. Some of them have been there longer--that's dedication. And yet--it was the first time for many of us to get out there and doing something like this.
Elliott and Emerson are master sand builders. . .and Linnea is overseeing the work.
Our base that was just across the beach, not a bad way to help the "foreigners" to acclimate -- you can see the salmon colored building:
In our base it was very much like a hotel plus the hospitality of the Homes for Hope people. Boys had to stay in one room and girls had to stay in another. There was a center courtyard with a kitchen staff, worship hall, and a playground for the kids.
This was all wonderful, but just outside these walls was the real reason we were all here. Not only that but we learned that the nights were actually quite cold. . .yes even way down here (probably in the 50s):
They next day was the start of something wonderful -- that made it all worth it. . .
DAY 2: BUILD DAY
Each morning Allison and I led a morning Bible study and devotional. . .to help prepare our hearts and minds for how to serve. Our study was taken from the journeys of Paul -- 3 different events in the book of Acts. Did I mention Allison is a great facilitator? ;) [she's a keeper]
We arrived at the home site, with the materials and foundation ready. First thing to do was to meet the family and pray. Dora, the mother of the family, and 4 children: Javier, Jose, Valentina [In the back you can see the structure of the families sister that they had been staying in.]
Then we got right two it. We split out into teams: the roof team, wall team, and prep/paint team.
Physical walls being built!
. . .and every other kind of wall being taken down! [Did I mention Allison was the safety supervisor?]
Elliott fit right in for some futbol in the street!
After a good long day of hard work, we got all four walls up. . .and the roof trusses in place. Now it was time to go out on the town for some authentic Mexican cuisine--tacos mariscos, fanta, y el helado. The taco stand was just about to close because it was new year's eve. . .but when our guide told them that there were 24 gringos wanting to eat. . .they rolled the steel doors back up for us. We probably made theie night. [By the way--I had the green sauce. It burned my lips for most the night. . .I though the green sauce meant mild. Here they had it reversed.]
Emerson thought the Fanta was okay. . .but the helado was much better. . .bubble gum, with chocolate, and sprinx. Allison decided to go all coconut on us.
There was only a single ice cream guy manning the store -- I am sure we overwhelmed him:
Emerson also got to make a new friend with one of the teenagers on this trip -- a really nice dude named Jacob. Elliott already was good friends with the pastor's son Lincoln:
DAY 3: BUILD DAY 2
This day took much longer because there was so much finish work--putting up drywall, installing windows, painting and nailing trim, etc.
Elliott got to find out about hard work -- in order to "nail-it" you got to practice:
Again more painting needed, the boys were troopers and a real help. While I cut the 45 degree angles and installed the trim, the boys and Allison were painting more for me so I had enough to finish around the windows:
And at last we finally finished the home late into the 2nd day. A cute 2 bedroom and one main room structure. It may have been small, but was vastly superior to what they had. We got to pray over the Dominguez family and hand them their keys. Jesus inspires us to lovely things--and this really was a glimpse into how God's kingdom will be.
After we left and thanked the staff. . .we still had to go back across the border into the US. . .and boy that was it's own cultural experience all on its own. We sat in traffic for 3 and a half hours. . .luckily our driver, Accel was a hoot. He said we were his funnest group ever.
In the end, this trip finally took its toll on the boys. . .but boy was it worth it.