Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Blizzard Effect

There is an old saying. We human's make plans, God laughs. I hope God isn't laughing, but I had hoped to fly out today, but I got a call last night saying my 8:30 AM flight was canceled. I used my cell phone, home phone and skype phone to call to Jetblue and finally got through. The very nice agent got me on a flight on Saturday to LA. I'm going to enjoy a drive down the Pacific Coast Highway to San Diego. Sure glad I have flight insurance on my credit card.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Builders of Hope 2011 Here we Come!

With the winds howling and snow blowing the call to Tijuana was all the stronger! We head to Mexico to build homes again 12 strong. This year is the 10th Anniversary trip. It is hard to believe that 10 years ago Andy Valdez, Reggie Padilla, Sunil Persaud, Julianne (Lovejoy)Gonzalez and myself headed to Baja California without really knowing where we were going and what we were doing. We got lost on our drive down within the first 5 minutes in Mexico. Yet even with that, it was a great trip.

This year we head down with:
Jeanette Murray
Audrey Yip
Valerie Montreuil
Andrew Cordero
Christie Cardinal
Minseok Lee
Michael Riggs
Fr. Ted Brown
Jeanette Murray
Miguel Montalvo
Ryutaro Takada
Megumi Nishimura
Yuya Hagiwara

We hope to post a blog every day so watch what we are up to! There will be reflections, interviews and videos! Be sure to pray for us!

We'll have tales to tell for sure!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Oom Pa Pa and 3 Kings.

Today, Jan 6th is the last of the 12 days of Christmas, also known as 12th Night in Shakesperian Circles. Our 12th day of Christmas was quite a day. As usual when we arrived at the work site the now familiar, oom pah oom pah music was blaring from the neighbor's house. It made us work faster.

When we arrived today there was one retaining wall up and one line of bricks for the foundation. Our assignment of the morning was to build the foundation up to ground level and then back fill with dirt we dug from another area of the yard.Watch the video

We filled backfilled and you could now see where the floor would be. It was approaching 12 noon and it lunch was almost ready. We had been eating around the edges of the house to be on what ever we could find to sit on. Before we knew it, a table had been placed on the soon to be floor, chairs brought out and a beautiful lace table cloth was placed on it. It was Dias de Reyes!
Day of the Kings! This is the day children get presents. (We had brought plenty with us)

Rosina, the mother announced that on this day, they would have their first meal in their new house. Soon the topas, beens and rice were served. The most wonderful rice milk with cinnamon was brought out and the celebration began. It was the first holiday feast in their new home, although only a foundation was there. Most of us were near to tears. After the meal, in the Catholic tradtion, blessed the house. No lintel yet, no door yet, but we knew where it would be and the traditional 20+C+B+M+10 was written on the cement blocks in chalk. The four corners blessed with holy water and then the round of applause. The children gathered for presents. I would not have wanted to be any where else.

The celebration was over and now the cement began. From 1 pm to 3:30 pm we mixed cement with out stop. In the end we made 8 tons of cement, passed 1 small bucket at a time to secure the foundation and begin the floor. We could barely stand when finished. We cheered that it wad finally done. (More awaits us tomorrow.)

We came back to the Posada, had 10 minutes to wash and change, then head to Casa de Migrante, a shelter for Migrants many of whom were deported from the US. This house run by the Scalabrini Missionaries allows them to stay for 12 days while they figure out what they would do. We ate a meal with them and heard stories of fathers leaving their children behind in the States after living their for 20 years. We talked to a 20 year old who was picked up, seperated from his family and now in a country where he knows no one. It was heart breaking, but we were impressed at the work of the Brothers and Fathers of the Casa.

After a very long day, we arrived back at the Posada for a wonderful meal and the tradtional King cake. I think we will all sleep well tonight. (I'm sorry if there are mistakes...I'm very tired.)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Landings and Diggings

Everyone arrived after delayed flights, but all frustration vanished when people stepped into the balmy 75 degree weather and was greeted by palm trees and light breezes. We packed up the vans and took the ride to La Gloria. It was an easy ride with a bit of road construction, making the ride much more comfortable. Now the roads are paved almost to the Posada. People unpacked and we were off for some food at the La Gloria Taco Stand. We returned to the Posada, celebrated Mass and made our 'mail boxes' and headed to bed.

Seven AM came fast and we were up and ready to by 8:30 AM. Volunteer leader Eduardo Zavala Reyes welcomed us and gave us an orientation. We were then off to the work site. We landed in a new neighborhood, after a bit of a hair raising ride to the site. Hills and drops are always part of the ride. We met Rosina, and her chidren Jackie, and Jesus whose home we were to work on. It struck me, "Does it get any better than this. Here we are on the 9th day of Christmas and we are going to build a home for little Jesus." Soon bricks were moved, and shovels were flying and we began a trench. By the time we left a 7 foot retaining wall had been built. We headed back for a pasta dinner and most went to bed rather quickly.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The waiting game..delayed flights

I'm sitting in Starbuck's in San Diego waiting for the last of our crew to arrive. Yesterday the 'advance crew,' Max, Kimber and Veronica arrived. Kimber spent the week with Rigo and his family and met us at the Posada. Veronica and Max arrived, but late.
We went shopping at Tijuana Costco last night and filled 3 large wagons with food, but under budget! Yay!

When we arrived back Clair the volunteer from last year, and Uriel the young Mexican whose graduation we celebrated were wating for us. Uriel tells us he is enjoying college but was sad he had to head back tommorrow.

I hear it's snowing in New York...It's about 70 degress here.