Amanda Dorough | The Beautiful Journey


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Hope From Dust: Mexico Part 2

Ok guys, I’m ready to finish telling you about Mexico.  Pardon the long pause.  I sat down to write this several times and just didn’t have the energy or motivation.  I’m mean it’s summer after all, time to live life, play outside, have fun right?

Anyway, here we go…..

As I mentioned in my last post, this year I had the opportunity to serve as a leader on a site team the week we were down there.  Each site team has a total of 3 leaders, 2 adults and 1 youth, so I wasn’t the only one on the team, which is good, because the house would have never gotten finished!  Haha. No, I really had a wonderful team and wonderful co-leaders this year.  For the first time in a long time the adults were outnumbered by youth which was was cool to see.  It is meant to be a youth trip after all.

While last year almost all teams were building in the same little community, this year we were split to two different areas, miles and miles from each other.  6 teams built in one area, 4 teams in another.  My team was part of “the 4” and our community was up on the side of a hill/mountain with a beautiful view of the valley/town below.

When we arrived that first day we got a chance to meet the family we’d be building for, Elizabeth, Juan Carlos and their 3 year old daughter Estefani as well as Elizabeths parents.  All 5 of them lived in a tiny 1 room house.  Juan Carlos was the only family member who worked and he only brought in $100/week.  This was definitely one of the poorer families I’ve built for over the years, but what they lacked physically they made up for in joy and heart.

The first day of our 4 day build is always dedicated to getting the foundation laid.  If we can get that done we’re golden.  Once we had met the family and found out where they wanted doors etc. we got right to work.  Some worked to squaring/leveling the foundation, some took inventory and others sorted through the stacks of 12 ft 2×4’s we had to find the good ones. By lunch we were ready to start mixing concrete.

DAy 1

DAy 1

DAy 1Over the years we’ve learned tricks to make the build go smoother, and one of them is the more hands you have to do the work the quicker it goes, so when it’s possible we like to match up with other teams to get the foundation mixed and poured.  This year we happened to have a team just next door to us so we teamed up with them and cranked out our foundation in a couple hours, then we switched and worked on theirs.  Even though it took about the same amount of time overall it seemed to go by so much faster because of the change of scenery and the extra hands to mix.

DAy 1

DAy 1The second day of the build the goal is always to frame the walls/roof and get them up.  Sometimes we’re able to go beyond that, sometimes we aren’t.  This year we had a bit of a special situation.  The families lot was really small and cramped and the space they wanted us to place the house backed up against a large cinderblock wall on one side and onto their house on the other, meaning we had two walls we wouldn’t be able to stucco in the end.  The one wall that backed against the cinderblock wall was one of the longer walls in the house, so we got a little creative.  While that wall is usually built in two pieces then stood up, in this case we specially built that wall as one big piece then covered the outside with sheets of plywood (that isn’t actually what it’s called, but forgive me I don’t remember the technical name, you get the jist) and painted it white to make it look finished.  I’d never done that on a house before so it was cool to see/do.

Day 2

Day 2

Day 2

Day 2

Day 2

Day 2

Day 2The third day is dedicated to covering the walls and making the house actually start looking like a house.  This is a day where there is a lot of hammering going on.  I managed to hammer three fingers alone (I then had to play guitar that night at campfire, needless to say I had a tough time) and got a nice big blood blister on my thumb.  Yuck.  Anyways, back to the build.  Covering the walls isn’t complicated, there are just a lot of steps.  First you have to stretch the baling wire (we attach it to the walls before we stand them up), then you cover the walls in tar paper, next you cover the tar paper with chicken wire, and once that’s all tight and all the holes in the tar paper have been covered with duct tape you’re ready for your first coat of stucco.  While we’re doing this there are also people on the roof laying down tar paper, roofing paper and taring the cracks.  I haven’t worked on a roof in 7 years so forgive me if I forgot a step there 🙂 I should also mention that all throughout the build so far Juan Carlos, the father, had been helping us.  Once we reached the first coat of stucco his true talents shone through.  The man was a beast at stuccoing.  He was both fast and good.  We only had two walls on the house to stucco as I mentioned before, Juan Carlos took the big one and we took the little.  It took all of us just as long to do the little wall as it took him to do the entire big wall next to it.  Craziness!  This once again left us plenty of time to help out the site team next to us stucco their walls.

Day 3

Day 3

Day 3The 4th day is always about finishing the last coat of stucco and presenting the house to the family.  When we arrived Juan Carlos was already hard at work stuccoing the wall again, so we set up quickly to finish our little wall as well.  The whole house was done in about an hour.  Some of us went for a bit to another site to help since a good chunk of their team was down due to sickness, then we headed to Walmart to do some shopping for the family and when we had come back they had cooked an awesome lunch for us.  Chicken and homemade tortillas.  They set up a table inside the new house and we feasted, it was incredible. After lunch it was finally time to present the house to the family.  This was one of the most emotional presentations I’ve done yet. The family was so thankful for what we had helped do for them and Juan Carlos let us know that if we ever need help in the future he would be the first one there.

Day 4

Day 4

Day 4

Day 4

Day 4

Day 4This is why I go to Mexico.  While I know many people that argue against the effectiveness of short term missions (and I understand their points in many cases), this trip to Mexico is a special situation.  It’s not about me, or the person next to me.  It’s about being the hands and feet of Jesus and giving these families a wonderful gift in his name.  It’s not a fancy house by any means.  The same thing here in the US would probably serve as a storage shed, but to these families it is precious and life changing.  You can see it on their faces and hear it when they speak.

While I don’t know how much longer or how many times I will be going to Mexico with this group, I will go as long as God gives me the opportunity.  Even when a stomach bug goes around and it feels like the whole camp is throwing up (I thankfully didn’t get it until I’d been safely at home in Seattle for 3 hours, but still… ugh) there’s something magical about going down with Go Inc. and Amor and I already look forward to what God has in store next year.

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The Mexico Blog

So there I sat, on a dusty cot, a beam of sunlight sneaking under the open tent flap and searing my back.  It was weird and exhilarating all at the same time.  It had been 6 years since I had last ventured across the Mexican border, and 14 since that first life changing trip.  A lot had changed over time and on that first day I anticipated the movement that would happen that week.

Our Mexico trip this year got off to a bit of an exciting/exhausting start.  We decided to drive down instead of flying in order to cut costs.  The drive started out with momentum and smiles, making stops at Krispy Kreme and Jimmy Johns along the way, but as soon as we crossed over the California border the trouble started.  The next 30 hours involved 2 car repairs, 1 tow truck ride, 5 hours in a Walmart parking lot, little sleep, and a race to get to the Mexican border before it became to dangerous to cross.

Breakdown!

We made it.  Just in time.  We rolled into camp at 10:30 and the place was silent, everyone was asleep. Thankfully the other women in our tent had set up our cots because at that point I didn’t have the energy to do it myself.  I had just enough stored to change into my pajamas, unroll my sleeping bag and crawl into bed.  Sleep was instant.

Saturday was a workday.  It was hard, but by 6am we were up and in line for breakfast.  I was part of a group that headed out to Rosarito to finish of a handful of houses that still needed their last coat of stucco.

Stucco

The first house my team worked on was on the hill overlooking the ocean.  This family litterally had a million dollar view, but their house was the size of an American bedroom.  I was able to use my intermediate Spanish to stumble over words and speak to the family.  Five kids and three grandkids lived with them.  Crowded.

In all teams were able to finish 9 houses for families that day.  The smiles on the families faces as we loaded up vans to leave stretched from ear to ear.  It was contagious.

Love kids!

Then came Monday morning.  My team, team 12 got into our van, tools in hand, excited to get to work on the first step of constructing a house for the Diaz-Fuentes family, the foundation.

This year nearly all teams were building on the same 3 streets, close enough to visit on lunch breaks. The unity that came out of the close proximity was incredible.  Seldom was there a moment without a person from another team on your site helping you get stuff done.

Working Together

Somehow I ended up being the person on my team with the greatest Spanish vocabulary and experience.  A daunting task for me.  Maria, the mom of the family we were building for got used to me stumbling over words and putting together choppy sentences and just laughed with me.  A humbling experience to say the least.

Maria and her husband Alberto were so great to us over the 4 days of the build.  They didn’t have much.  Their family of 5 was living in a small house the size of my bedroom, but they spoiled us with food.  I didn’t have to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich once, and each day  we had a different juice cooled by ice, a luxury I had never experienced in my previous trips.  Maria said “We were blessing her with a house and happy workers work better.” She also wanted to leave a positive impression on us “so that we would come back to Mexico.”  Beautiful.

Jonathan

The rest of the week really flew by.  I didn’t feel well through most of it, so I ended up spending more time in the shade or AC than I wanted. But one of my favorite experiences came on the third day, and it’s a silly one.  We had put the frame up the day before so day three was set aside for covering the the walls and roof.  The roof had always been my favorite part of the build in the past, but this year I didn’t get up there, instead I worked on putting tar paper up on the walls using the most awesome tool I’ve ever held, a hammer tacker.  I know, some of you are out there going “really?”  There’s just something really cool about a tool that does double duty.  You would hit the stuff with it like a hammer, but a staple would came out!  I love it!  I actually decided I’m going to buy my own to bring down with me next year.

IMG_4948

So now it’s hard to beleive that I’ve already been home for 3 weeks.  There was something really special about Mexico this year for me.  The last time I went, in 2007, I enjoyed my time but when thinking about coming back again the next year I felt like I could take it or leave it.  I think now, that I’m established as an adult (although people still often mistake me for a youth, others tell me that’s a blessing, I have mixed emotions concerning it) and a youth leader I feel like I have a role to fill and like there’s something bigger than I can imagine that I can do through this missions vehicle.  It’s funny because I didn’t think it would ever be Mexico.  Thailand, Bolivia, Swaziland maybe, and long term, but a week trip to Mexico, nah.  Now I have a different attitude.  Already I can’t wait to go back next year.  I want to impact lives down in Mexico, but on the flipside I’m also excited about impacting the lives of youth, and I think that’s the avenue that God is telling my to invest in now.

Team 12

 

If you want to see more p pictures from the Mexico trip this year you can click here.