2006 Mexico Mission Diary
People and Places
Even though we broke into small work teams much of the day, we came together for meals and for a devotional time each evening. These were good times.
One of the ways we came together as a group was at mealtimes, and we sure laughed a lot there. Here, Sanille and Tammy are talking, and as seemed to happen so often on this trip, Jim is caught in the middle.
We fixed most of our own meals. Lunches and dinners included chili, pot roast, chicken and noodles. Breakfasts included biscuits and gravy and pancakes. We invited the mission workers to most of our meals.
Ed Wilkes' birthday was Tuesday, I think. Here he is blowing out candles on his cake. One day during the 2004 trip was Gary's birthday, and Ed had us all sing Happy Birthday to him at every meal that day. Paybacks are sweet, though; Gary had us sing Happy Birthday to Ed at every meal the rest of the week.
I'm not sure what Sanille is trying to communicate to Rob here, but it sure was funny at the time.
Every evening, we met in the cool breezes of the veranda to sing praises to God, to pray, and to listen to a devotional someone had prepared. George did a dramatic devotional Sunday night about the need for salvation. Rob Wilkes did devotionals Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday about spiritual disciplines. He asked me if I'd do Wednesday's devotional about a spiritual discipline, and I agreed.
Sanille brought her guitar, prepared a songbook for us, and led us in song every night. We sang many familiar tunes, and she taught us a new song based on Psalm 9:
I will praise
I will tell
I will sing praise to Your Name, O Most High
As usual, we went to the market on Thursday afternoon. The market is full of junk that tourists buy — blankets, mass-produced handcrafts, belts, traditional Mexican dresses, and the like. You can also buy vanilla there, which is supposedly the best you can buy, and darn cheap at about $3 a pint. The vendors expect you to haggle. I bought a couple blankets for myself and some gifts for others and spent maybe $20.
The vendors by and large speak decent English. One of the vendors' English wasn't quite adequate when she wanted to tell me that I looked to her like some famous Mexican singer. She had to get another vendor to translate for her.
In the photo at left, most of us are shopped out and waiting for the rest of the group to show up so we could head back to the misson compound.
Thursday night we drove to Albina's for dinner. Albina is a member of the Vida Nueva church. Her house was destroyed in a flood a few years ago, and crews from many mission trips built a new house on her property. In 2004, I was on a crew that applied stucco to the exterior, while another crew installed windows and another crew built the roof. It's great to go back and see how much work Albina and her family have done since then. When we visited last year, the house was finished and they built a taco stand on the corner. This year, the old taco stand was replaced by a new, larger one, and a stone wall had been built along the front of the house.
It is wonderful to see how much Albina and her family have made of this place, especially since, frankly, there are a ton of mistakes on this house. Whoever laid the block didn't leave space for the windows, so someone sledgehammered holes for them, which left huge gaps that had to be filled with cement. And don't even get me started on all the mistakes we made applying the stucco. We were definitely a rookie crew. Who knows how many times Albina may have cursed our names for some of the work we did. But she has certainly made a great deal out of what she was given.
The taco stand seems to be pretty popular. We were certainly a huge customer that night, but even while we were there cars stopped and ordered things, and people sat at the window and ate. We sat outside at makeshift tables as the tacos and burritos kept coming until we were stuffed. Albina brought out some freshly cut apple, orange, and papaya for us. I'd never had papaya before. It's really good, with a mildly sweet and somewhat earthy flavor.
Jair and his wife Norma came out to eat, too, as did Abner and his family, including his father and his sister and her children, who were all visiting from the United States. I talked with Abner's father for a while. He has lived everywhere from Baltimore to Abilene and had some interesting stories to tell.
This little girl, Jacqueline, is an orphan who lives at the mission. She had just arrived before last year's trip. She's grown considerably and is just adorable. She likes to be the center of attention!
Abner and his wife tried to adopt Jacqueline, but were denied. Apparently there is a cultural resistance in Mexico to Mexicans adopting Mexicans.
This is all of us. We were a small group this year, but I trust that we were mighty in God's hands.
Row 1: Erika, Sanille, Dawn, Connie