I started to write this post yesterday, got halfway through and then my computer froze up and shut down. Just my luck right? Ok, so first off let me apologize for any grammar mistakes, I am typing with 9 fingers so it is slightly more difficult.
Going to Mexico this year I didn't quite know what to expect. Last time I went, in 2003, we were at a different camp and all of my friends went. This time, before going I knew less than half the team since I wasn't able to go to the meetings. I'll admit the trip this year got off to a somewhat rocky start. We had to be at the airport by 4am then for our connecting flight in San Jose we ended up running through the airport, and then when we finally got to San Diego we spent 4 hours in a park waiting for other people to fly in and the vans to get sorted out. By then everyone was starving and in a cranky mood so no one was pleasant to be around.
On the first full day we're in Mexico (Sat) our group (which this year was made up of about 320 people) breaks up and does different tasks. Some went to go help on other house sites which other groups had come down and started but never finished. Others helped clean up the camp and then went out into the community and passed out rice and beans, and then I helped another group which only had 14 members but had been given a double to build (normally around 14 people work on a single house). Pouring the foundation is always the hardest day and they needed all the help they could get. With all of us working together we were able to get the slab poured by 4:30. This site happened to be connected to a church so just was we were finishing there was a wedding starting. It was awesome to see the bride walk in just as we were pulling away.
Sunday was church and shopping in Tijuana. The shopping part I could have cared less about, I mean honestly how many Mexican blankets can you own??? all I wanted was a Popsicle from La Michocan, and not only did I get one, I got two! Oh they were so good! It definitely made my day.
Monday is when the real work began. The vans left at 6:30 every morning and we couldn't get back to camp until our work for the day was done. This year I was placed on a church site. I'd always been on singles before so it was a different experience. Instead of 15 people to do all of the work there was about 40. From the years I had gone in the past I knew the church was also the latest one to return every night just because there was so much to do. Sometimes they wouldn't get back until even 9 or 10 at night. Now that said, I must say that I had the most amazing group. We hauled butt and got so far! We had more than half of the slab poured by lunch. Sometimes they don't even have half done by then. We actually got back to camp before some of the groups that night, that can only attest to how hard we worked. The second day consisted of building and putting up the walls and roof. We sawed, hammered, carried, and waited. With so many people there sometimes wasn't enough jobs for everyone so that was kind of hard for me to deal with sometimes but it turned out OK. We were really lucky that the tresses for the roof had been built by a group on Saturday. If we had had to build those too, I don't know if we would have finished. The third day was putting on tall of the tar paper and wire and finishing the roof. Anyone who knew me on past trips to Mexico knows the roof is my favorite part, especially pouring out the tar. Well this year I decided to let someone else have a go at the tar but I still wanted to get up on the roof. I was able to hammer down a lot of the roofing paper, and then we had to hammer it down along the edges of the roof. The roof slants, we were like 11 feet up, I'm afraid of falling (not heights, but falling from heights) and the roofing paper is hot on my knees so I just wanted to get done as fast as possible. Finally I came to my last nail and it was going to be my last hit so I swung with all of my might and totally missed the nail I was supposed to be hitting and hit my finger instead. Oh it hut SOOOOO much! Stupid framing hammer! Now my finger nail is purple, it's going to fall off soon, and my finger is swollen, and that is why I am typing with only 9 fingers. The last day was stucco. We were able to get a layer done by about 11 then we had to wait for it to dry. The pastor of the church made us another awesome lunch (he made one the first day too), this time it was tortas and freshly made watermelon juice. So kind. While we were waiting to start the second coat I was able to go out and play soccer with some of the kids. IT was such a great time. Then someone would kick the ball and it would go into the big culvert and we'd have to start over again. I'd have to say the kids were one of my favorite parts of the site this year. On the first day only a few came and by the last day there were at least 20.
When we finally finished presenting the pastor and his family with all the gifts to get his church started was awesome. We raised about $900 so he was going to be able to buy the projector he wanted (the church was going to be used as a ministry to the teenagers of the neighborhood). After all was done and we prayed the pastor came around and hugged all of us. It was a weird feeling to know it was really over. It seemed to go by much faster this year than any other, but I guess that's life right?
On Friday we took down camp and drove across the border to Point Loma Nazarene University. As always the transition from dry and brown to having green everywhere was welcome. As for PLNU, all I can say is WOW! why didn't I got there? Although the dorm room wasn't as nice I had a view od the Pacific ocean out of my window. Later Jen, Erin, Kelsey and I hiked down the the beach, well really the cliffs. It's difficult to get down to the beach there and somehow me and Jen got separated from Erin and Kelsey in the process. Eventually we did find a way down but it was steep and we knew we didn't want to try to get back up it. I was really proud of Jen for getting down it in the first place with her cast and all. Then when we got to the beach we looked to the right and saw a staircase, of course:) but we still have to go through water to get to it, getting half soaked in the process.
Going home our Normandy group was on two different flights. We all had to go the time of the earlier flight so that gave my group a couple of extra hours. It's a good thing we went early though because we got to the counter and Delta didn't have complete records of us. They sent us down to American Airlines which our flight apparently went through and then back and it still took forever to get worked out, but we did get it worked out which is much better than the other groups situation. Their flight was completely cancelled with nothing else out until late Sunday night. We offered to switch our tickets with some of them so Kyle and Patti could get back to church but Delta wouldn't let us. This time we flew from San Diego to Salt Lake city where it was still 93 degrees and then home to seattle, taking 5 hours to do what we could have done in 2 in a straight flight. Oh well, it was just a little added time to our adventure :)