Well, it finally happened. We made it to Mexico, built a house, and came back. In September when I started thinking about this trip I honestly wasn't sure how it would turn out, but it did. We left Wichita at about 4 a.m. on Monday, and I really didn't think the drive was that bad. Twelve hours later we rolled into El Paso and split up to take on Wal-Mart and Sam's Club to get what we would need for the week. (If you haven't been to the El Paso Wal-Mart...it's an experience. Odds are you may not find what you're looking for because they will be out of it. I've never seen so many people in my life. If you ever plan on going, set aside at least two hours.)
After Wal-Mart, we headed to Chili's for dinner (after stopping by House of Pizza...which is closed on Mondays..?) At Chili's I got to see Andy, Kevin, Shane, Raphael and Alexis and the team that would be building another house that week. It seriously was great to see all my Casas friends again.
The next morning, we got up early and headed for the office to meet Alexis, since she was leading our team. I was reunited with my beloved Peña for the week (a sixteen year-old Ford F-250) It was awesome.
We got situated at the church in Juarez and then found our worksite and set to work on the form for the concrete floor. We hand-poured the slab, and I have to say, it looked pretty good for being hand-poured!
We had frequent visits from the niece and nephew of the couple we were building for, so we broke out the five boxes of Teddy Grahams that my boss sent with us and gave them to the kids. They absolutely loved them and I can't help but wonder if their mom was mad at us for spoiling their lunch. Teddy Grahams are better than lunch anyways.
After assembling all the walls and pouring the concrete, we went back to the church that night, exhausted, ate some PB&J for dinner, and fell asleep. We had the privilege of staying at Verdad y Vida, which is one of my favorite churches to stay at. It has a new bunkhouse built onto it so we had beds instead of army cots. Loved. It. And Chila, the lady that lives there, always made sure the gas-run space heater was on when we got back since the church wasn't heated.
The next day we did a ton of stuff with the house, including electrical, blackboard, chicken wire, the roof, and insulation, again with many visits from the kids, Jose Luis and Julissa.
Sidenote: We also had this awesome grandpa named Anastasio who told us to call him Nacho. He knew a little English from working in the fields in the US (I wish I'd had more time to talk to him about this). The first thing he asked me was, "You married? Why not?" (What do you say to that?)
He heard one of the girls say to Lehr, "No way Jose!" So he picked that up and called Lehr "Jose" all week long.
That night when we got back I realized that our pre-made lasagna said it would take TWO HOURS to cook. Fail. BUT the boys' team had bought Josue's (a delicious restaurant across from the church we stayed at) and then their family had made them food. So they paid for the Josue's and we got to eat it. Best Mexican hamburger in the world. Hands down. Hamburger, ham, bacon, hot dog, guacamole, ketchup, and who knows what else. Sounds disgusting. Tastes amazing.
The next day we finished the house with stucco and drywall and a little electrical (it took me over an hour to install a ceiling fan, but I blame it on the guys walking past and dropping random stuff in my pockets while I had my hands up working. Either that or I suck at ceiling fans. Probably true.)
That day it had started out at around 60 degrees, perfect for building. The wind picked up that afternoon and a large sandstorm rolled in. We grabbed whatever we could find to cover our mouths and noses as we worked (I woke up the next morning with sand caked in my eyes. Attractive.) We got a good break at lunch when we got to sit inside and eat the delicious mole and rice the family made for us. After a few hours the sand calmed down and freezing rain rolled in, right as we were finishing up the house. Icicles began to form on the roof of the house and the rain was washing our still-drying stucco away, so we quickly pulled tarps from the roof to the ground to try to save the stucco. Some of it washed off, but the family said they knew how to fix it.
We left the site right as it started to snow (yes, it snows in Juarez) and we got back to the church where Chila was making us tamales over the fire. YUM! She also made sure we were fully stocked on her homemade tortillas with butter. I am realizing how it is that I gained 10 pounds last summer.
At the dedication the next day, the pastor that sponsored the family we built for prayed for the family and each of us individually. He then gave us oil in our hands and proceeded to put his hands on the house and pray for it. At first, I was hesitant to put my oily hands on the sheetrock, but I think it will be a reminder of the prayer over the house and family and of God's love for them.
We headed out after that and crossed the border (which we only waited five minutes TOPS to get across...I've waited up to three hours before). That night we all got to hang out and play Signs for a few hours before we rang in the new year and headed to bed.
All in all, it was an amazing trip, and God never ceases to amaze me when I am there. I am not in as much emotional pain now as I was when I came back after this summer. But I am at peace. I am thankful for my warm bed and the heat that is always warming my house. But the thing is, part of me would rather be laying in bed at Verdad y Vida, dirty and cold, than in my warm bed.
Thank you so much to everyone who prayed for us or donated to help us get to Mexico. It was AWESOME. Headed for Acuña in March with my church, and I can't wait.
Can you guess which one's Nacho?