Friday, May 30, 2014

Work Hard..Play Harder

Thursday was our fourth day on the work site.  It is os amazing how we started from the bottom and we have what you see here.
The Team standing on what will be the new floor.
We finally see change and improvement with the foundation completed. Melly and Luis (Mother and son who will get the house) seem to get more excited each day: which makes us feel so great and pumped to work even harder.  We look forward to working hard, pouring the floor on Friday.

Later in the afternoon the Pioneers from LIU Post and the Pioneers from Providence High School in California had night out on th the town to watch a baseball game.  We happily cheered the  Tijuana Toros.  Our excitement went over the roof with: trying to catchy t-shirts from the mascots, Stanley Edmund dancing in front of the whole stadium (and on the large screen)  loud noise makers and great music, all with good friends.
Christina and this boy  both dived for this shirt.  The boy won,
but Christina was a good sport about it.

Rebecca, Amanda, Oda and Silje on the big screen.

Tijuana it is bittersweet that we only have a day left.  This is a great city-the people of Tijuana have our hearts.

-Con Carino  Lisette Millan and Nadia Hernandez

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Minute by Minute with the Builders of Hope/Hump Day

7:13 AM.  Good Morning Everyone! Today is Wednesday which means we are officially halfway through our trip (happy hump day). It also means that this is the third day we have the "pleasure" of listening to Fr. Ted's Wake Up playlist.  If you would like to experience the "joy" of this playlist for yourself, I invite you to go on youtube and look up the Lazy Town Wake Up Song (Lazy Town Wake Up)...then play it at 7 am.

7:50 AM. I am currently eating a blueberry muffin the size of a small house (carbs = energy!!!). At this point in our trip, we have all become painfully aware of muscles we didn't even know we had, ESPECIALLY in our lower backs.  If any of you back home are offering free massages, we would all be interested.  Thanks.

5:31 PM.  I apologize for the huge time gap.  I meant to bring paper to the worksite, but I forgot...per usual.  Public Service Announcement.  We just finished the 1000 piece puzzle that we started on Sunday! It's a huge deal.  (There are about 8 pieces missing - I suspect they were eaten by the vacuum, but we are staying positive.
We got back from the worksite about an hour ago.  This message is coming to you after a 30 minute long shower.  The minutes were distributed as follows: 1 minute of water and 29 minutes of scrubbing cement off of my arms and legs only to give up eventually.  I still have cement on my elbows...
So today was another day of hard work, stomach-pain inducing laughter and delicious food (no seriously, todays lunch was sooooo good!!!!)
After the work day, Eduardo drove us to the US/Mexico border where many people have crossed over illegally.  Back in the 80s (I think) there used to be an area called "Friendship Park" where Mexican Americans could reunite with their families.  Today, the whole park is on the Mexican side of the border.  Across the fence on the US side, there is a whole lot of nothing with the exception of a few ominous looking helicopters.
For me, the park induced some mixed emotions.  It is such a beautiful place on the Mexican side.  The fence is painted with bright colors, the beach is filled with people, the water sparkles and the air smells like homemade churros.  It is the kind of idyllic place where you can't help but feel joy.  At the same time
however, it is also a place where a great number of people have died crossing.  The fence separates families and marks a stunningly visible rift in the distribution of wealth.  Upon closer inspection, the bright colors and paintings on the fence contain emotional and moving sentiments.  One quote in particular struck me.  It read: "Boundaries and borders and are temporary, but family is forever."
7:01 PM I am so full.  We Just had a pasta dinner...and started another puzzle.
9:58 PM I am exhausted!!! Good Night! (Oh, and in case you were wondering...the puzzle isn't going so well.)
         by Laurie Murray

Hump Day
Well, here we are, halfway point. The point where the nights are much shorter, and the days seem kinda endless. Each day it takes a little more time to get up and its usually accompanied with some groans; aside from the groans and zombie-like faces on the ride to the worksite the experience is very rewarding. Each day we are reminded why we came and why we need to do what we are doing this. this house not only provides the family a roof over their heads but also provides an unconditional love and gratitude from complete stranger. We met the family only a few days ago and they have given us so much love.
We worked on the house today and it is absolutely crazy that we did so much. I am severely sore everywhere and had sand and concrete in places sand and concrete shouldn't go... regardless the three servings of food the family we were working with gave me absolutely made all the struggles worth it. Their smiles and laughs makes all the hard work pay off.
As we concluded our day, tired and dirty we headed to border. Words cannot describe the desolate feeling one feels when such a beautiful beach is destroyed because there is a "wall" that runs through the middle of it. Song lyrics, book quotes and thoughtful reflections decorate the wall that separate dreams from reality. That wall symbolizes to me the lack of care we have to those who need the most. This wall has destroyed families, lives and dreams. George Harrison once said "With every mistake we must surely be learning." Every time I see something that separates us from our own race and care for humanity I feel that we are very far from learning our lesson.
This hump day has been the hard climb to the halfway point and also the emotional climb to learn that there is suffering beyond our borders. There is a world out there that needs help. The lesson needs to be learned.
         by David Armas Molina

Bright Sun, Hard Work and Children's Smiles.

Tuesday began with Tijuana’s bright desert sun shining upon our backs while we mixed cement and put up a 6 foot wall. Unlike yesterday where we finished digging a foundation, today was a bit more exciting for me. Watching the looks on the faces of all the first timers on the trip as we put up the walls as if they were play with LEGO. It was great to see how much we’ve accomplished in just 2 days of being here and working together as a team.
The Walls Go Up!

Although the Sun was a little out of control which is unusual for this time of year (usually it’s cloudy all morning) most of us got a tan I think that will last us the entire summer. Watching everyone work together as one, along with members  of the community helping to build this new home for this family is truly admirable to me. I also admire the fact that language is not a barrier, although the families do not speak English through there smiles, laughter and hospitality, we knew of their true concern for us.

Covered with cement but still have a great spirit!
After a full day of mixing cement and building a wall we visited an orphanage run by the Sisters of Sacred Heart right here in Tijuana. This was my fourth time visiting this orphanage and I must say every year the visit gets a lot more emotional because of the fact that year after year when I walk in the orphanage the girls actually remember me. Although I only get to see them once a year I got to see some grew from little girls to now high school students. It’s sad to see how throughout these years no one has cared to adopt these girls and probably won’t. But year after year I am always impressed how great the Sisters take care of these girls and how smart the girls are. Very often this visit to the orphanage is the highlight to the week and many of us do not want to leave nor don’t the children want us to go.
Doesn’t get any better than this, building a home for a family in need and putting smiles on the faces of children! Today was a good day.

                                       -Miguel Montalvo

For more pictures check us out on Facebook at

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Foundation for the Week

The walk to the Taco Stand was as as simple as
our crossing the border into Mexico
Upon arrival yesterday, many of us were expecting a full search of our luggage, showing of passports, and a dangerous environment. We were surprisingly underwhelmed. We went through a turnstile and we saw a sign that said "Welcome to Mexico." From there, it was just like walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. Once we got to the other side of the bridge, a customs official asked us to push a button, and it was green which meant we did not need to be searched and we could just enter Mexico. We were picked up by the Esperanza staff immediately upon arrival in Mexico. We were driven to The Posada where we will be staying. Since we were all pretty hungry after the day's travels, we decided to go to the local Tacqueria and had some delicious tacos! We got back and had Mass and we settled in for the night.

Today, we were all pretty excited to begin working on the house, so most of us woke up before the alarm. We had breakfast and got ourselves together, and then Eduardo, the volunteer coordinator and head technician of Esperanza International, came to give us a brief orientation. He asked us why we decided to go on this trip, and listened intently to every answer. He then gave us a brief rundown of our duties and what to expect at the work site. He also gave us a brief synopsis of how families are chosen to receive a house. After that, we then collected our supplies and got on the bus to go to the worksite.

Rebecca and Amanda working on reinforcement bar.
When we arrived at the site, we became acquainted with the family receiving the house and other local volunteers. Then, the fun began. Our tasks ranged from cutting and bending rebar, passing buckets filled with sand or cement, jackhammering, and manually making cement. Today, we built the foundation, not only for the house, but for the work ethic of the week.
Miguel Montalvo with one of the children.

While doing these tasks, one of the volunteers momentarily got lightheaded from adjusting to this new environment. The family was very welcoming and hospitable. Their Mexican hospitality promptly returned the volunteer to the worksite within 15 minutes, and worked the rest of the day without a problem.

Covered in dirt, sand, and cement, we cleaned up our supplies and returned to the bus to go back to the posada. Evening came, and we ended our day with a traditional Memorial Day BBQ. Though we are tired and our muscles are aching, we are still excited for the work to come!

                  -Written by Rebecca Phillips and Amanda Kelly

Monday, May 19, 2014

2014 Mission Trip about to begin!

Our team, fifteen strong, is busy these days getting the items from the packing list and any last minute paper work done.  Once again members of the LIU Post Catholic Community and some friends will be heading to Tijuana, BC, Mexico to build dignified human housing for the good people of the colonias of that area.    We are excited!  It is always a challenging week, but a heart warming one.
Please pray for us here.  If you wish to send good wishes, send them to:

We'll be digging, mixing cement, making bricks, visiting an orphanage and experiencing the Mexico/US border as a Mexican person would.   For some it will be their first view of the Pacific ocean.

We look forward to being with the fine people of the community.  It's always an adventure!