Wednesday, May 30, 2012

So Close Yet So Far: By Michelin Janvier

 Today we went to the home of Senora Paz, whose home we built ten years ago. Her delightful husband Don Jose died five years ago. Her children are now moving back to be with her and now a larger space is needed for her home.  After a hard day of work and all of us covered in cement dust, Eduardo drove us to the Mexican border. Seeing the border for the first time and how the United States was within sight, I remember the chilling story my mom told me when she crossed this very Tijuana  border into the United States in 1980. She crossed with my sister who was eight years old at that time and my godfather who was 13 years old. She said it was a scary experience because the dessert was so hot, they only had one gallon of water and the paranoia of getting caught by border patrol was unbearable. I cried when she told me at one point that she was so tired of walking and disoriented from the heat that she told my sister and godfather to leave her behind and to keep walking. Looking at the border made me realize that I would not have been a Miami native if it was not for my mom's long journey for a better life and future. The thought that she could of died among the countless that continue to die in their attempt for a better life brings chills down my spine. We all read political messages, quotes from poets, and various opinions of Mexicans expressing their anger about a long 12 foot high wall that continue to cost the lives of many. One quote said "we should build more bridges and less walls". I think that each and one of us in this life changing trip carry that bridge of hope that things can change for the better without leaving your beautiful country where ever it may be. For my mom it was leaving Nicaragua, for Mexicans, it was leaving their beautiful Mexico. God bless all those who carry that courage to bring change and inspire others though their actions like Esperanza. Thank you.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cement, Children & Chinese food

Today is day two of working once again on Cenalda's new house. Most of us woke up ready to finish what we started yesterday at Cenalda's home.  I (Miguel) woke up a little late,  tired from all the cement mixing and work from the previous day. But when Father Ted finally woke me up after calling me multiple times I got ready to go for another day of brick laying and cement mixing. While working at the site the head of the house Cenalda was always attentive to all our needs. When she saw that we were working a lot she would have water ready to quench our thirst. Lunch time finally arrived.   We sat in the shade and ate an authentic Mexican meal: tortillas, rice, beans and beef with an all natural and organic drink made from hibiscus flowers. After lunch we then had to mix the cement we needed to pour into the now 12 feet walls. This proved to be the most difficult part of the day but we got it done.
We then headed back to the Posada,  we cleaned up quickly and went to visit an all girls' orphanage run by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart. When arriving we met all the sisters who run the orphanage and also some volunteers. The girls were shy at first but it did not take long until they were all pulling us in all directions and hugging us.   Then a game of soccer broke out with the teen girls at the orphanage and ourselves. Some of the younger girls were also playing while others were getting face painted by Christie. After about an hour of playtime is was time for the girls to do homework so we said our goodbyes and gave them all hugs.
After a day of hard work and hard play with the children it was time for another good meal. The always attentive Esperanza staff Eduardo, aware of our Chinese team member Terry, "Chino"Chang, brought us to a beautiful Chinese Buffet. All you can eat sounded perfect after a day like this. At the buffet we talked and laughed and enjoyed finally relaxing in one another's company. Now with a heart full of memories and a stomach full of food it was time to come back to the Posada to get some rest and prepare for tommorrow.
In conclusion, being that its my second year coming to visit this orphanage I was more aware of what to expect, and so it was very obvious to me this time how much the girls need love and affection. As much as the sisters take very good care of the girls you can still see something is missing. It breaks my heart to see such young girls have to grow up living at an orphanage but i noticed how much these girls love and care for each other.
On a personal note I would like to thank Father Ted, all who bought bricks from me and helped support what we are doing here in Tijuana. I especially want to thank Michelle and Ken Szpara-Denisco for buying my plane ticket to come here and do what I am doing. If it had not been for them I would have not been able to afford to come to Tijuana.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Building Bridges, Building Hope, Renewing The Face Of The Earth.

When we woke up this morning, we had a more in-depth orientation with Eduardo, the Esperanza program director. We learned more about him and where he comes from,  inspiring us more with his words and why he is where he is today. When we headed to the work site in the community for the first time, we were introduced to the family for whom we are building for. As Cenalda, the mother spoke, she expressed her heartfelt appreciation for us coming to help her and her family at our own will. As we worked, we were introduced to the infamous cement mixer, bucket-passing, hammering metal, tying re-bar, and lying bricks for the walls. Cenalda, her daughter and friends that came to help cooked us the most amazing authentic Mexican meal. We talked about how much money this family had to have saved and how long it must have taken them to put this meal together for us.
As our eyes and hearts continue to be open, we continue to stand side by side with the families of Tijuana - American, Chinese, Finland, and Mexico people sharing life - Passing hope, love and faith along with each bucket...each brick.
Some may ask, "Why can't you stay and help the poor here in America?..." There is government in America to help the poor - Americans may disagree with how much they are given and how it isn't enough. But here in Mexico, the government isn't in a position to help its people because of the great need. It's Esperanza, a private agency that provides the Mexican people with hope...and that's why we're continue to spread hope to more families.
I'll leave you with a quote from Eduardo today. "I don't need to be rich. I don't want to be rich. I'm rich now because of what I hold in my heart. I've never lost faith." The days will go on and we will continue to ask ourselves why the world works the way it does?  Why money is the basis of quality of life? Why right over that mountain in the distance in California is life so different? But we will also continue to see that when we fill our hearts with hope and faith, we can truly do our best to make the world a better place.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

LIU Post Newman Arrives in Sunny Tijuana

Finally the long waited trip to Mexico had started. Most of us leaving in the early hours of day arrived to San Diego about noon. When the group had gotten together, we headed towards Mexico traveling by local bus and train, and in the end crossing the border by walking. Weather was sunny and warm.
After getting to the Mexico side, some of the group members who had arrived earlier, came to pick the rest of the gang to Tijuana. When getting to our Posada, we got first introduced to the volunteer director Eduardo and had a nice bilingual discussion within the whole group. Rooms were assigned and it was time to settle down. Before the dinner we had a nice short mass and prayed the Holy Spirit to join us. Dinner was a 10-minute walk away a very tasteful Taco-restaurant. After that it was nice to just relax and share everyone's first feelings about the just started trip.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Builders of Hope: LIU Post Newman Trip 2012

On May 27th 2012 The Newman Catholic Community descends on Tijuana Mexico for it's 11th trip. We head out 10 strong! We hope you will follow us while we are there. Our hope is to post every day. Time can be tight and so we may video blog a bit. While there we will dig, mix cement, lay bricks, and pour cement. More importantly, we will live with our friends from across the border and enjoy their wonderful hospitality. We learn about them and they will learn about us. Although we will be building a house for them with bricks we hope to take down the walls that exist between peoples. Follow our day to day routine and the extraordinary events that will happen. There is always a miracle with Esperanza!