Greetings from Texas. Surprise! It seemed a whole lot hotter today than yesterday, if you can even imagine. I do not think the temperature was higher today; it is just that we were on a concrete floor putting up a concrete block wall in the heat of the sun after 2:00. Wow! It was hard to keep going, but we did!
This morning was fairly uneventful as we began. In our room, there was an ongoing symphony of cell phone alarms which began at 4:30 a.m. and continued until the last one sounded at 5:00. The coffee perked on time, breakfast was served promptly at 5:20, Diane P. led our morning prayer, all fifteen of us squeezed into the van, with our snacks, sunglasses, hats, sunscreen, insect repellent, lunches for our amigos, and we headed for the border at 6:05. (In Texas, it is still quite dark at that time in the morning, which makes it a little difficult to crawl into the last seat of a 15 passenger van.)
We made our usual stop at the Church to pick up our coolers of water and tool chest, and we headed to our family’s home site. It was then that we were told that we would be laying block today, instead of pouring a roof, because the necessary materials were not delivered yet. (Any former Mexico missionaries know the first order of business on those days is forming a block line and moving all the block inside the house, and for some of us, that can be a harder task than it used to be.) It was decided to mix the mortar inside the house, as there were no clear spots around the house for mixing.
Robin and Tom took care of the mortar, “watering” the mix and carrying shovelfuls to the 6 block- laying teams, as well as bringing blocks and anything else we might need. Karryl was “Johnny on the spot” with plenty of water whenever we needed it, and Doug was the “utility” player doing anything we needed. Colleen encouraged anyone who had never laid block to give it a try, and she followed that with simplified and concise directions for “how to lay a block.” Then she paired the novices with an expert, giving all the newbies a master teacher: Jamie and Myra worked with Berto, Jessie, Rachel, and Laura worked with Don Payne and Angel, and Samuel and Rosemary were pretty much on their own, with Kayo providing support as needed. As Don said tonight at devotional, “This is how we will keep the ministry going…by teaching the young people all the skills we already know.” In those terms, today was a huge success.
Here is a first for our mission trip! During the morning, Robin was called over to see what was in one of the Lowe’s buckets. When she looked at it, she thought it was a rat, but called Kayo over to verify, and he said it was a possum. Not all of us knew about that; however, when the abuela put a rope around the possum’s neck and began walking it around the yard, we all saw it. Abuela was entertaining the two rambunctious boys of the family by holding it up by its rope leash to sort of make it move, and the boys were both laughing, (a rarity with them,) and seemed to be having a great time. For most of us, it was like a train wreck and we could not look away. Still, there was some discrepancy about what happened next. Some say the possum on the leash got away from the abuela; others say she jerked it up by the leash and threw it in the bushes. At any rate, it was gone, never to be seen by us again….at least not yet…. There were a couple of other unusual events, today, on the street where we worked. Several saw a lengthy funeral procession pass by with a large black hearse leading the way….something we have never seen before. There were also a couple of law enforcement groups who drove by where we were working, however I never saw them either.
We stopped laying block early in order to get to the church for lunch and worship. As always, the meal today was great! It was pasta and meatballs with bread and some very delicious cantaloupe. With two groups there, and all the Mexican workers, lunch is such a pleasurable time to get to know some of the others who are working to make a difference in the lives of those living in the colonias. The group from Indiana has made almost as many trips as us, but they know they will
not come back again in June! (“It is just too hot!”) Gracie filled us in on what her day is like and how her leisure time is spent. Than as we finished our meal, Humberto showed up for a short visit. (The Indiana group has a Spanish-speaking woman whose only job is to talk to folks and translate when needed, and she helped me understand what Humberto was telling me.) Humberto is a student that Elise and I sponsor for his education; right now, he is in a post-secondary technical school, as well as working part time. We invited him to come back for lunch on Friday and to bring his younger brother and mother. As we did last year, we parted saying next year he would know more English and I would know more Spanish. After lunch, we had a short worship service led by Colleen and the new minister Carlos. Just when we thought we would be going home a little early, we learned we were going back to our house to finish the last two rows of block. We may not have said it, but most of us thought it …. seriously? We all soldiered on, but by the time we completed that task, most of us were just about “done.” We did not leave the colonias until after 3:00, making it almost 5:00 by the time we all rode through the border crossing and arrived at our Weslaco home.
One of the questions on our Daily Data page is “Where did you see Jesus today?” Usually when we get back to the church, we share our day with the Diane’s, and they share their day with us. Today, they sort of acted as though they had a secret, but neither said much. During devotional, Diane P. calmly said, “We saw Jesus at WalMart today.” Sister Diane chirped in, “Jesus (Jaina’s talking Jesus doll) talked all the way to WalMart.” Then when they were checking out, after buying 12 of about twenty different food items we give to our co-workers, a young child came up to Sister Diane, (who says she is a child magnet,) and said, “My Momma wants to know why you are buying all that food.” Diane explained to the young girl about our mission here in Texas and across the border, and the girl returned to her mother. Then they both came over to the Diane’s and the mother said she wanted to help with the mission and then gave them $40.00 to buy whatever they needed to further the Mexico Mission. Our Diane’s definitely saw Jesus at WalMart, and tomorrow, they will use that unexpected cash gift to buy some housewarming gifts for the family. What a wonderful experience!
It has been a long day, and everyone else has retired for the night, so I will close with our thanks for your support and prayers for the important work we are doing each day in Mexico. The very best part of each of our days is knowing we have tried to make a difference in the lives of others. Please continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers, remembering that we labor in love for others and our Lord.
Your pen pal missionary….Randi