Sunday, September 16, 2007

Part Six

Oh my goodness, how long can I stretch this out, eh? I really hope to have this series wrapped up by tomorrow.

These are my thoughts from Wednesday August 29 at noon:

I stayed back at Eden today; sorting and printing the photos I’ve taken so far. I’m sitting in a cabana with a palm roof that probably houses a thousand black widow spiders and I’m OK with that. There was a big brown spider in Dave’s shoe this morning. And I’m OK with that too. My head is pounding and I can’t breathe out of my nose but I’m so thankful to be here.

I’ve set up a photo studio in this little corner of paradise. My bum is on one dirty white rubbermaid chair, my laptop on a second one, and the printer that rocks my world right now is on the third chair. The center pole that supports this entire structure has an electrical outlet at the top so I’m not worried about running out of battery power. There is the most wonderful breeze working its way from the ocean to me and I am so in a good place. I’m thankful that this is my thing on this trip; taking pictures, encouraging kids to journal, giving a photo album to the Garcia family, providing each neighbourhood kid a picture of themselves. Glen’s thing involves physical labour in the baking sun. Larry’s thing involves preparing and delivering devotions first thing in the morning (7:30 am) and again before bedtime when everyone is plum tuckered out. And Dave’s thing is to be upbeat all the time. Carmen’s thing is HUGE. She’s the only one of us that speaks Spanish, so we rely on her for communicating with the Garcia family and all the kids who gather ‘round the work site. Her dedication to sharing God’s love with them in something everyone should see.

I love the way the other adults I’m with just roll with the punches. Each of us has had our frustrations, yet you wouldn’t know it ten minutes later.

Forty three pictures have just printed. SO cool. Quality is awesome. But deeper than that, photo after photo of brown eyed children keep dropping into the tray. And they are beautiful. The children, I mean, not the photos. I’ve got this thing for brown eyes and even if the child has a green snotty nose, matted black hair and toothless, cavity filled grin – their eyes are pure gold.

I burnt my scalp really badly yesterday. It’s all puss -ee and crusted over this morning. And tender, Very tender. Clint’s wrist, the one that he usually has a colorful shoelace wrapped around (he follows his own fashion sense) is burnt to a crisp. One of the kids wanted his neon green lace, so he gave it away, leaving tender, baby soft, white skin exposed to the unforgiving sun. The back of Drew’s neck is also scorched but he’s sucking it up and doesn’t want me to mother him.

And (previously posted) written on Wednesday evening at about 9 pm while sitting at the kitchen table:

I am SO mortified.
One of the reasons I did not want to go on this trip was because I snore. I’ve mentioned that already, haven’t I?
I’m tenting with Tanya, Kara, Sophie and Michelle and I've apologized to them for getting stuck with me as a tentmate because of my uh, night noises. I HAD bought ear plugs for my roomies, but sadly for them, forgot to pack them.

Tonight the dads are playing cards at the kitchen table, there are a few kids around, and Garrett is here nursing his hurt ankle. I keep walking back and forth between power sources as I download photos and recharge camera batteries, and so on.

At 10 pm I go over to my tent and find 3 of my girls in bed already. (The fourth one is keeping Garrett company…) I mention to the dads that my girls are in bed already.
“Yeah, no kidding. They’re trying to get some sleep before you go to bed. It’s your snoring, you know…”
“What? They’ve talked to you about me?” I say feeling oh so very very sick.
“Yeah, apparently you were so loud last night, you woke them all up at 3 am. And were laughing so hard, they couldn’t get back to sleep.”
“OH! Charlotte said there was a group of girls out of control and she had to yell at them to quieten down last night. Was that because of you?” Linda the cook asks.
Dave is chuckling … “They taped you.”
“What? They taped me?”
“Yeah. They couldn’t believe how loud you were. And they tried to wake you but you just kept snoring.”
“OK. That’s it. I’m changing churches. After this trip no one will see me again. I am so embarrassed,”
“You didn’t snore on the bus …” Chad observes, trying to be helpful. He is now my favorite person in the whole wide world.
“You’re right. She didn’t.” Others agrees.
“You were watching and listening to me sleep on the bus?”
“Well yeah …”

I’m not going to bed tonight.
I’m going to stay here, at this table, all night long.

You know what else happened today?
I went to sit on my princess air mattress bed and I tumbled off the edge, bouncing into the tent wall and falling out the back door flap. I was wedged in a tricky position and could not find anything to grab to hoist myself back up.

I didn’t go to the build site at all today. I spent 6 hours printing off photos. They turned out real good. But I missed breakfast and lunch. And supper (which was spaghetti) was skimpy. I wonder if I’ve lost weight.

This bit about not being in control of when I go to bed and when and what I can eat is shitty. I’ve been my own boss for too long, to have some 20 year old say, “Light’s out now…”

And this last bit, written today, in my family room while watching the Emmy's:

Helen Mirren is a class act, isn't she. Wow, I want to look like her when I'm old (er). I'd love to pick up an English accent too. Sally Field is so human. And adorable. The Office didn't win. Too bad, so sad. Loved watching the red carpet (the environmentally friendly red carpet, made of zillions plastic bottles) arrivals. Some women just know how to put together an outfit. Wow.

Ok. Back to Mexico. And the lives of people who live in cardboard houses with dirt floors. I was thinking of the Garcia women last night when I had a bubble bath. I bet they've never had a bath, much less one filled with yummy bubbles. Not yummy because they taste good, but yummy because you can't see your body while bathing in them. Not that they have body image issues like me, but that is the perk of bubbles. I mentioned this thought to Sue in church this morning, and she had the most awesome idea for a future missions trip to Mexico if I ever go again. Get this:

I fly to San Diego and rent a motor home like I do for Creation. Meet up with the bus on the I-5 and follow it to Vicente Guerrero. I SLEEP in the motorhome where I can put on my underwear and snore in complete privacy. THEN, drive the motorhome out to the build site, and treat the women who we are building a house for TO A SPA TREATMENT and a long, private, luxurious shower. (We left the Garcia family a shower house. Their first one. They now have a room, the same size as the outhouse, to shower in. Except they have no water. So what typically happens is they take a bucket of water in with them and ladle it over themselves. Where have they been doing this up til now? Their cardboard house had no interior walls.)

If it's up to me to do the spa treatment, I've got alot to learn. I've never even put polish on my own nails. I'm just that retarded. And up until 2 months ago, I washed my face with bar soap and applied foundation by squirting a blob of Covergirl on a sponge. Maybe I could be the driver, and the photographer and someone else could do the girly stuff?

Anyway, back to this trip in general, and Wednesday August 29 specifically ...

We went to a church service on that Wednesday evening. All of us dressed respectfully, which meant long pants and button up short sleeved shirts for the guys. And skirts for the girls. We were a shiny clean, nicely dressed bunch of people that night. Afterwards, the girls were saying how nice it felt to be pretty for a change. We've been hot, dirty, sticky and sweaty for most of the trip and this church-service-evening was a welcomed change.

The church service was all in Spanish, but when they asked the visitors to stand, and about 100 of us did, they hooked up a mike to an interpreter. You know, church is church. No matter what country you're in or what language you speak - church is church. We walked in during the worship set where a team of 3 musicians were leading. The powerpoint person was struggling to get the right words on the screen. And after the first set, we were welcomed and encouraged to shake the hands of the folks around us. Just like at home. After the worship was done (and can I say how spine-tingling wonderful it was when they lead us in a familiar song? Oh glory be, the sound in that church just exploded into the sweetest, fullest richest sound when we joined in singing in English. Yes, tears did flow. It was awesome) after the worship was done, and offering taken, the kids were dismissed for their children's church program. Just like home.

The message that evening?
To finish what you start. To end well. To not give up. To go back and work on it till its done. SO very appropriate for us.

Oh, while I think of it, and seeing now is as good a time as any, know what my favorite memory of this trip is?
I'll tell you.
It was on the Sunday night that we arrived. Have I blogged about this already? Maybe. Oh well, it's worth writing out again.
It was on the Sunday night that we arrived. We all ("all" being Murrayville and South Langley) met in the gazebo closest to our tents ("my" photo studio gazebo) and had a combined devo session. (Devo is short for devotions.) Kevin, the youth pastor from South Langley (an absolutely fantastic leader, in my humble opinion) and the worship leader from SL who's name I cannot remember... let's call him Darcy ... led us in some singing. (Why Darcy? Don't know. Just popped into my head, so maybe that's his name but I'm pretty sure not.)

Kevin started by encouraging us all to sing, even if we weren't very good. He had a snappy saying that he repeats to his youth group that I've completely forgotten, but it went something like, You don't have to sing well, but you do have to sing. And then he explained to the rest of us that their youth don't sing too often when they meet, and seeing it was late, and we were tired, he wasn't going to push the issue ... we could just sit or lay where we were.

Darcy steps up with his guitar and tells us to turn to such and such a page in our photocopied song books and then. Then. Then I get all happy in my heart just remembering. Then, our senior guys all stood. And sang. I have never been so proud of these guys. Didn't matter that South Langley were non-singers. Our guys stood. And sang. With their hearts. Eventually most of us stood as well. And in retrospect it wasn't a big thing. But it was something. It was a moment that defined who we they are. And they are amazing. It didn't matter that it was late. Or that we were tired. Or that we had finally stopped moving after 3 days of travel. Or that there might be spiders over head or scorpions down below. We were worshipping. And that is done best on your feet.

There were many other moments after this one where I was in awe of our group. But this was the first moment. And firsts always stick in your brain longer than others.

If you send a child to Mexico on this trip, know that they were a joy to be with. And every single one of them blew me away at one time or another with an act of kindness, boldness, maturity, sensitivity or courage. I am honored to have been apart of this team.

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