Buenos tardes, amigos and amigas! We have completed our second day of work in the colonias, and we are home early … and we poured a roof this morning!
This morning, Julie from Weslaco FPC joined us for breakfast. (Yesterday, Jennifer joined us!) What a treat it is to connect with our Weslaco friends while we are guests of their church! Breakfast is always good, as the two Dianes really make a fantastic crockpot of grits; you must ask them for the recipe. We also had sausage, eggs, biscuits, fruit, and cereal, too. We can now confess that yesterday when we made lunches to share with our friends in the colonias, we accidentally forgot to load that cooler; today we made more lunches, and placed that cooler in the doorway, so it would not be forgotten. Following breakfast, we had our morning devotional, and then, because we are crossing the border a little later, we actually had 10 minutes between devotional and departure to leisurely brush our teeth and make one final rest room visit.
After we received approval from Colleen, via text, we headed out across the border. You who have been previously might want to know that Mexico is currently undergoing a major overhaul of their border area. It seems huge as we drive by, but I think the main other difference is that it is no longer a “straight shot” through their patrol area; there are more zigzags and curves than one would find in a game of Candyland. Today, we received a green light, and we sailed right through, arriving at the compound at 7:30, where we met our volunteers and the group from Austin. We had brought Miss Virginia’s cake for Deantin, which she makes with love for him every year; so before we began our work day, we put that in the office for a future delivery to him.
Our main task today was pouring the roof for Juan Antonio, so together we headed to his home. Thankfully, most of the work space was in the shade, and there was still an occasional breeze. Altogether, there were 45 of us, twelve from work teams and more than thirty other volunteers who are putting in their work equity towards a future home of their own. (Home owners must work for eight months before they can receive a home.) We were told that the current group of volunteers is brand new, having only just started their work equity, and we are one of the first groups with whom they have worked. (Some may call that baptism by fire.) We each quickly found the job for which we were best suited, with some filling buckets of gravel or sand, some hauling those same buckets to the cement mixer, some “throwing” the buckets of cement to the roof, some filling the wheelbarrow on the roof, some pushing the filled wheelbarrow to different areas of the roof, some throwing the empty buckets back down to be refilled, and some providing breaks for the workers. Myra, of course, was playing the role of Karryl and making sure all were well-hydrated. I think we finished in a little over an hour!!!
After the photo, the huge group split up and returned to begin the walls at each of the houses. (Previous Mexico Mission teams may remember the tiny pastel color wood houses and the modern efficiency apartments located right next to a business; this is actually the same neighborhood as some of our previous home sites.) The first order of business is to move the block into the house, a sort of hard job, especially when there are only a few of you and the blocks have a little ways to go. Then, the mortar is mixed, (in the cleanest spot in the yard,) as this is a finer mixture which is used when laying the block. Before the “amateurs” can begin, our foreman Chuky has to lay the block at each of the corners; then the rest of us can start finishing the rows. While our group was smallish, we still had plenty of help with everything, from delivering mortar and blocks to the teams to mixing the mortar and getting to know our amigos and amigas. (In fact, one of the volunteer workers picked a flower for Robin’s hat while they mixed the mortar together. Kayo and I were laying block inside the house, and the mortar-mixing group seemed to be having too much fun.) We only laid a few rows of block, before we had to be back at the church for lunch and devotional.
Lunch today was rice, beans, a meat and vegetable dish, tortillas, salad, and fresh pineapple and jicama. Barbara Lewis, from Copeland, had sent two cakes with us, so we took one to lunch, and it was gone in a flash. (We also saved one cake for us!) At lunchtime, we also had a few visitors to the compound. Ana’s family, including her four children, Ana Sophia, Hector, Edgar, and Karina, stopped by to visit and share lunch with us. We built Ana’s house in 2016, and Ana Sophia is sponsored by a former member of one of our mission teams. Apparently, they came straight from school, as the three oldest children were in their school uniforms. Ezekiel also came by the church after lunch; he was one of the first foremen for Faith Ministry, but he is now retired and suffering from illness; (because of that, he has lost a lot of weight.) His wife, Petra, recently had a stroke, so he is taking care of her full time. It was good to see him, and during our short Church time, we were able to pray for both Petra and him.
After lunch, we had a short amount of time to visit with our friends from the colonia. This week, we have been working side by side with several women, all of whom are very friendly and fun to be around. I may have mentioned that Wendy, one of the young girls, is fascinated with Kata’s hair, and she asked Kata if she could braid her hair today. Kata graciously said yes, and so, after lunch, the area outside the lunchroom became a beauty shop … with an audience of at least twelve Americans and Mexicans watching Kata and critiquing Wendy as Kata’s hair was styled. There was lots of opportunity to learn both Spanish and English as the onlookers provided a running commentary on the “beautician” and her “client.” (After Wendy finished, Kata said, “Do I look like Kim Kardashian?” Surprisingly, none of the Mexican ladies had even heard of Kim Kardashian!) Stay tuned! Elise has an appointment with Wendy tomorrow after lunch.
We departed the colonias shortly after worship at the Church, much earlier than we anticipated, so we were at the border around 2:00 this afternoon. Guess what? Officer Munoz was our agent again! Once again, we were blessed with kindness and appreciation as we finished our day with Faith Ministry. What a delightful change from previous year’s crossings!
When we arrived at the church, Carolyn Bell and Debbie were sorting and sizing the coats you all sent for their coat closet. Every year, Weslaco FPC gives away over a thousand coats during the winter months to Valley residents, and you all were able to help them with this mission. Since we were home early, we also had a little more time to enjoy our afternoon snacks of homemade guacamole and chips, lemon lime soda and sherbet, and fresh fruit. Today, we also had cookies from the church here and the extra cake made by Barbara Lewis. All were prepared by Diane and Diane, who also made a delicious vegetable lasagna and salad for our dinner tonight. They even made time for a tour, courtesy of Julie, of the new middle school across from the church; it was built around two angel oak trees which have graced that campus for many years.
Tonight, in our Eventide, we prayed especially for the team from Austin. Their main leader Bill was unable to work today, as he was under the weather. We also prayed for Ezekiel and his wife Petra, whom so many of you have worked with over the years. Becky, Karryl Anderson’s wife, is scheduled to have partial shoulder replacement next Tuesday, so our prayers continued for her. Additionally, we prayed for our families at home, our amigos and amigas, Faith Ministry, and the family for whom we are building a house. We covet your prayers for safe travels and work places, as well as strength and stamina. We especially pray that we will be able to be the presence of Christ each and every day.
We are working on the last preparations for tomorrow, and then we hope to be in bed by 9:00 again. As you know, older missionaries often need more sleep.
Sent with love from your pen pal in Texas and Mexico this week …. Randi