Saturday, September 18, 2010

Back in the United States.......

We are back in the United States and waiting at the airport to catch our flight back Seattle.

Many things happened this week.......the most important are the changes that each of us have gone through to make this world a better place.

Congratulations St. Louise Adult Trekkers!!!! Everyone worked really hard and it was a blessing to be part of a group that had so much to share and give of themselves.

We look forward to share our stories and experiences when we are back home in Seattle.

Thank you to all who have supported us along the way!!!!

- Mona.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Day 5.....we built walls for the new home, poured cement into them and poured a roof.

What a day today!!!!! We started out at the work site (that has both houses on it) building walls for one of the homes. It was very successful although precision was needed, an excellent job was done. After the walls were up, we poured cement into the walls and made sure that all the finishing touches were made to it. In the meantime, Eduardo was still waiting for the cement truck to arrive. If it did, we would pour the floor. We were tired but ready to pour the floor.....low and behold, the cement truck came and we started to pour the floor. It was another moment to be proud of as the group held up very well and we got the job done. All in all......a fantastic way to end the work week!!!!

We learnt a lot from the community this week. The community really came together and helped us with every part of the process. It nice to see that LOVE REALLY HAS NO BORDERS!!!! We were welcomed and we welcomed them into our hearts and lives.

I learnt a lot this week which I will take back with me and keep it in my heart. Esperanza is doing so much good for the families of Tijuana. They teach them to build community and to look out for each other. Many good lessons will be carried with us back home to the US and shared with family, friends....etc....

The challenge is to live out our faith by doing the best that we can for the good of step at a time......that way, we will all be able to help the world!

- Mona.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Yesterday was a busy day at Santa Margarita, where we poured the foundation for one of the houses. Unfortunately, I got a bunch of the dry cement mix in one of my eyes and was very uncomfortable. I had to throw out my contacts because the cement was fused to it. Luckily, I brought a couple of extra sets. The eye feels much better today, but still feels irritated. The big Mexican Independence Day celebration we went to was very crowded, but still interesting. I think I prefer the local celebration like we went to last year in La Gloria, because it has a more small town feel to the festivities.

After work today we got to visit the families that we worked with during the Tijuana Teen trek I helped with this summer with our St. Louise group. It was wonderful to see Marta and her children Uriel, Roberto, and Lupita again. Unfortunately her husband was working. we weren't able to visit with him as well. I must admit, it was an emotional reunion for me, especially talking with Uriel, who is just a bit younger than the students I teach. I encouraged him to study hard in school, since he is missing some schoolwork in his classes. When he hugged me goodbye it was all I could do not to start crying.

Tomorrow is our last day, and I'm looking forward to taking the experiences I had this week and sharing them with my family, friends, and especially my students. I'll be anticipating my return here next year to continue building my global connections with our friends in Mexico.

Day 4.....we poured a floor.

We started off the morning at a different community as they needed the help to pour the floor. It was an addition to their home and boy were they happy to have us over to help with the floor. We poured twelve and a half bags of cement in about 50 minutes and it was a very joyus feeling. We had a wonderful lunch with the family, thanked them for their hospitality and then went to La Morita to visit the families that the St. Louise Teen Trek worked with this past July into August.

Eric and the group that he came down with dug the foundation. Our St. Louise Teen Trek group dug some more of the foundation and got the floor ready for the next group to pour the floor. We were amazed when we saw the home this afternoon!!! The home was still in the finishing stages (the walls needed to be finished, painted.....etc....etc...) but Marta and her family are so happy to have their new space and they are equally if not more excited to paint and decorate their new home. We then left to see Rossio and her new home. It was wonderful to see the finished product, clean and ready to move in. From there we went to visit the very first home that St. Louise help build and that is Isabella and her family. It was wonderful meeting with her and seeing how her family and her home has grown. We then proceeded to the border.

The border is always a very moving experience and we are looking forward to hearing Eduardo talk to us about it tomorrow morning. It will be very interesting to see what the group thinks about the border and what they think about immigration.

Looking forward to a wonderful day tomorrow and hoping that we can do more than our best to have a family live their "american dream," of having a beautiful home.

- Mona.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Day 3.......we put in foundation blocks and poured cement in them

Another good day for the St. Louise Adult Trekkers! We got to the work site, eager and ready to work (as always) and we accomplished a lot. We laid in the foundation blocks and had a lot of rebar to tie. We wired the joint :) After building up to about 7 high, we poured cement into the foundation. It was a job well done but most of us were covered in A LOT of cement.

The work today required a lot of patience especially since a lot of precision work needed to be done. People were very patient and they kept switching in on jobs with others who were in the line for a long time.

Today is the Mexican Independence Day and about 11 Adults are going to be going to somewhere near La Morita to enjoy the evening. Some of us are staying back since we really worked hard :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Day 2.....more pics

Day 2.......we poured a floor!!!!

We had a wonderful day today!!! We got to complete and pour a floor for one of the homes that we were working on. Tomorrow we are going to be working on building more of the foundation of the second home.....hopefully to the point where we get to pour the second floor! Everyone worked so hard today....too hard as they weren't taking as many water breaks but Kris and myself kept reminding everyone to hydrate....hydrate and hydrate :)

We had a suprise visit from Aimee Khuu. For those of you who don't know who Aimee is, she is the volunteer coordinator who schedules the slots for the groups who want to come and volunteer in Tijuana for the week. She flew in late last night from Oaxaca and spent about an hour talking to us about the AMAZING work there. From nothing to having the people over there build their trust in Esperanza to having their homes built with volunteers.......all in all....things are really picking up in Oaxaca. Esperanza is looking for volunteer groups to go down and help with the construction of the homes. So if it's something that will fit in your schedule please contact Aimee Khuu at Esperanza International.

There were so many community members that came up to help today....they almost matched the number of people in our group. I always wonder if people would come out and help in Seattle or any part of the US like they do here???? Or would we need to continually ask people to come out and help??? The dedication of the community members amazes me because it not only helps the work go faster but it also shows support for other families.
- Mona

Monday, September 13, 2010

Our first work day found us working on 2 house projects side by side. On one house we placed another layer of cement blocks for the foundation, then cemented them in. On the other house we began to dig out the foundation. We worked up a good sweat today. I know I'll sleep well tonight- at least I hope so. Tomorrow we will continue our work on the two houses. We got to work side by side with many Esperanza program participants. I haven't got all their names down yet, but I'll keep working on it tomorrow.
Meeting with Eduardo Zavala, the Volunteer Coordinator/Project Manager was delightful and inspiring as always. He speaks of his country and the work he does with such passion. His energy and enthusiasm are contagious! Tonight's dinner crew prepared a wonderful chicken stir-fry with lots of vegetables. It was delicious! Everyone is relaxing this evening. I wonder if anyone will be up for some salsa dancing. We'll see...


Day 1: Done, 4 More to Go

Today we finished the 1st day of real work after having lots of fun during the weekend leading to this day. One one hand, I was able to do a lot of earth moving, preparing concrete and moving bricks around. On the other hand, I have a sore throat and it looks like I might be coming down with something, hopefully a shot of Nyquil will help be in better shape tomorrow.

As always, there are unexpected situations. The house site sits on a hill that used to be at the bottom of the ocean. The fault lines of ancient earthquakes are clearly visible. The displacements were 1in and 4in. As we dug around, we also found lots of ancient sea shells. George (aka Jorge) was kind enough to explain some of the geology of the hill.

As always, these trips are really enjoyable, no matter how hard the actual work might seem.

Cheers to all,
-- Gerry
Day One - Real work begins.
Today we were inspired as many people - men and women - from the community turned out to work with us. They worked very hard and we had a real sense of communidad. Our host, Josepha, was bright and cheery and we had a great lunch of Menudo, Breakfast - Oh well, Lunch - of Champions. We worked hard and long. Our newbies, Maureen and Juli, were champs! Lots of sun, lots of work. It was a great day

Abrazos a todos

Today we dug. Moved dirt. Moved it back for the truck to come through. Dug it up again.
Besos a MAMA,

Some more pics from our first day of work.....

First day at our worksite.

The lady in yellow is the mother that we are building a home for. Her name is Josepha. We are also building a home next to her's for her son, Jorge. We did a lot of work today: digging a trench, moving blocks, pouring cement (which we all love), moving more dirt, digging the trench even deeper and finally moving more dirt. We had an excellent and interesting soup today with tripe in it.....some liked it more than others.
We had many people from the community of Santa Margarita come and help the 16 of us. They all work so hard!
Tomorrow we have lots of work to do. We will be spreading all the dirt out, then tamping it down and then pouring their foundation floor.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Our day.....Puerto Nuevo

Day 2.......

Good morning or afternoon.............

We woke up at 7 AM and got ready for Mass. Mass was good along with the music. At the end of the Mass, they had food on sale outside the Church and everything smelled really good!!! Some of us went to the Panaderia and others started breakfast.

We enjoyed a good breakfast along with the goodies from the bakery. We have been relaxing for about an hour and will be leaving soon to Puerto Nuevo for some shopping and good food.

- Mona.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

night time on a saturday night

what a lovely night to spend with my buddies and kimberly.
it is easy to enjoy a night at the posada after getting lost thanks to mona on the way here. :) Actually, it might have been my fault, since I was navigating...
Then later
Kimberly ate so many tacos I could have fed all of tijuana. But she' s nice, so don' t judge her. (view accompanying photos)

- George. jk... from Josie.

The following are Kimberly' s thoughtful thoughts:

So if you didn't know before, I'm actually the new long term volunteer here down in Tijuana for Esperanza International. I'm originally from Rhode Island, went to school in New York, and just graduated with my degree in Social Work. I was happy to welcome the St Louise Adult Trekkers... not to be confused with Star Trekies. : ) Josie is pretty unique. I'm sure we'll get along great. It was great to hear that the group wanted to shop locally for this weeks food... so we took a trip to the Ley and quickly did some shopping. After getting to know the members of the group, it was time for dinner! We ALL filled up on some good food from the taqueria. I can already tell that this week is going to be filled will amazing memories and hard work.

Thoughts from Josie:
Kimberly's memory seems to be slightly skewed. When she says "we ALL filled up on some food.." she really means "mostly I filled up on some food..."
: )
I love you mom.

Good night from the Posada..............

Today has been a really good day. It seems like everyone had a great time including Maureen and Julie (our newbees). It's 8:31 PM and some people are reading, some are in bed and some are enjoying their time just relaxing. We are looking forward to tomorrow......Mass, Puerto Nuevo and some more good times.

- Mona.

Our first day in has ended well......

roses are red,
violets are blue,
and tacos are good.

Hola Mama! Besos, Jose.

Hola from Tijuana, Mexico

We are here!!!!! We had a good flight, renting our vehicles was painless and we finally got on the road to cross the border. There was a small line to get in and then before we knew it......we were in Tijuana!!!! We all made it to the Posada, unpacked, had our introduction with Monica (the long term volunteer) and finished all our grocery shopping. Everyone seems to enjoy each other's company and we are all taking turns getting to know the other long term volunteer.

We are going to the Taqueria for dinner and everyone's waiting for the great food.


We are waiting at the airport......waiting to board...all excited!!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Leaving in 1 day.................

It's hard to believe that in 1 day we'll be on our way to Tijuana, Mexico!!!! We've been waiting for a whole year to make this trip and although it seems like it was a long we are.....on the brink of departure and awaiting all that we will be doing, sharing, learning....etc.......

I have been pondering a lot on the date that we fly out - "09/11," and what that means to so many people in the US and around the world. To many of us, when "09/11" is mentioned, it evokes various feelings and reactions. My mind goes racing to the planes that were flown into the World Trade Center and all the people who died in the building as it collasped. It felt like the whole world stood still on that day. There were tears, heartache, anguish, shock....amongst many other feelings that were running through peoples minds and hearts but the underlying message stayed the same, a day that nobody will ever forget and a day that will be talked about for generations to come.

As we fly out on 09/11, we will be getting ready to embrace a new culture that maybe foreign to some of us and to learn about the people in Mexico. Some of us may be anxious to know what our project is going to be for the week ahead, some maybe weary as to how they will relate to the people of Mexico without knowing their language......all in all, we are going there for many purposes, to help a family get their "american dream," a house that they can call "home," and to build new relationships and to strengthen old ones.

We are going to Tijuana, Mexico to make a change and to be changed by what we learn. We hope that the change will spread to others so that our world will see the good in each other and will constantly reach out to the people who need help!

Mona ~ "It's not the magnitute of our actions but the amount of love that is put into them that matters." ~ Mother Teresa.