This was our first week of training, and I have to admit, I don't think God could've picked better people to intern together. I feel like all of us have known each other for so long. There are 6 guys and then Lisa and me, who are the only girls! At first I thought it would be really intimidating to work with so many guys, but it's been great so far.
We (my roommate Lisa and I) got our truck for the summer. His name is Peña...all the trucks in the fleet have names. He's an F250 that you have to stick your arm out the window to open the door from the outside, but we love him anyways :) Our house also rocks. We each have bunk beds, but since it's only the two of us we can choose which bed to sleep on whenever we want to. We have an amazing kitchen, which we plan on using to hopefully make delicious meals for the other interns every once in a while.
Monday we started out at 5:45 in the morning and went over things that we would usually do when our teams first pull into the office in El Paso, like introducing ourselves and going over some of the rules of crossing into Juarez. It took us a few hours to get everything together and get across the border.
Every build I've ever done with Casas has been on the outskirts of Juarez in an area called the Kilometers. Out here, the roads aren't paved and most people build houses out of whatever they can find. Sometimes the houses are a little sturdier than others, but "houses" range from old cars and buses to cardboard shacks.
The family we built for this week lived in a house that was probably on the higher end of the ones that I've seen in the past, but they were nevertheless in need of a blessing. The mom was a single mom...I think she had five kids ranging from age 4 to 15. The dad was abusive and had left a long time ago. I saw brokenness in this family, but I also saw so much hope.
We built what's called a double in 3 days. A double is a three-room house (30 ft. 4 in. by 14 ft. 5 in.) I felt okay the first day, but by day two (Tuesday) I was starting to feel a little overwhelmed. We learned everything from leveling and squaring the foundation, pouring the cement, standing the walls, leveling and squaring the walls, squaring the roof, putting the roof on, wiring the house, putting up blackboard, chicken wire, and stucco, all the way down to putting in the doors and putting on the trim. Part of me is afraid to make mistakes, but I know that's the best way I'm going to learn. I also still have three more builds with staff members before we go out on our own to build with church groups.
Today we dedicated the house, which involves giving them a Bible, praying for them, and the pastor coming and talking about Christ and His love for them. The oldest daughter got really emotional as the pastor talked about how they don't have to live in the past anymore. They don't have to carry the things that their father did to them, because they have a Father in heaven who is so perfect and loves them unconditionally. As we prayed over them, the mom began praying softly in Spanish which always tears at my heart.
And, of course, I snagged a few pictures with the kids, who are always my favorite part of building. My job for part of today was running the stucco mixer, and getting 3 buckets of sand, one of cement mix, and one of water can get pretty tiring, so I had help from two boys (about ages 4 and 5). Probably my favorite part was watching the youngest try to use the shovel instead of his small cup to put sand into the bucket.
We crossed back over the border today, which was kind of intimidating since I was driving. The first thing the border patrolman did was ask me "De donde vienen ustedes?" which means, "Where are you coming from?" We're not supposed to let on that we speak or understand Spanish when crossing the border, and I've never heard a border patrolman use Spanish with someone crossing back into the US on any of our trips. So I kind of freaked out, played dumb, and said, "I'm sorry?" He looked at me like I was out of my mind, but that's okay, because we got to pull through unlike the team in Luke (the other truck) who got pulled into secondary to be searched because they acted suspicious :)
God is going to do big things this summer, and I can't wait for all the things that we are all going to encounter together as interns. He is our protector. I've never felt in danger in Juarez and again didn't feel in danger this week. Of course, it isn't safe, but we just have to use common sense and trust that God will continue to watch over us as he has all these years.
Miss you guys,
PS - Some pics from this week. My face is filthy from the stucco mixer :)