Friday, April 07, 2006

Colima Trip

Just got back from a fantastic trip. I flew down to Colima Mexico with a team of people to build an orphanage. The new home we were working on was in Esperanza, which was pretty much out in the middle of nowhere. It is located under two big volcano’s nick named fire and ice. One is active and one is not. The active volcano would let off the occasional poof while we were working. It was a spectacular view. The sounds of donkeys and roosters filled the air and the worksite as we poured cement, laid bricks, and tied steal. You could occasionally hear me squeal as I picked up a brick with big old scorpion attached. We made great progress on the building and it is almost ready for the roof.

The home we were working on was going to house teen boys 13-16. Many of these boys have lived at the main orphanage and are now too old to stay as there are babies waiting to get in and also make room for some troubled boys who currently live on the streets. I was quite shocked at the lack of modern tools as we built with what felt like tools and techniques of the 1920’s. Glad we had an expert mechanic to weld together some wheel barrels just so we could move material. Our level was a thin hose with water in it. Next to the home a previous team built a rustic tech center. I think the boys who can learn some modern skills will have no problem getting work as they still use many conventional methods in Colima.





It was a little odd going down with 20 strangers, but the team I went with ended up being really cool and fun. I am sure to have at least one new friend for life from the experience. It was also interesting that we had people of all walks of life on our trip. I honestly can say that I truly enjoyed every single person on our team and it was the perfect mix. We not only did we get along great; we had a lot of fun. I already miss them deeply.















My sister Tina and her husband Tracy met us in Colima. They flew from Seattle Washington. I loved being with my sister and we have yet another experience and this one with so many memories to connect us regardless of our distance.


Our schedule went something like this…we would wake up early each morning to a quick team meeting, a moment of devotion and often sharing histories from the interesting members of the group. We walked to a big breakfast at the main orphanage made by Carmen Sawyer and the other women who work at the home. The food was absolutely fantastic! We would quickly pile in trucks and drive about 30 minutes to the worksite. Our team was amazingly productive and driven as we worked through the hot sunny days often unsure and inexperienced at our task at hand. It was not easy but it definitely was a blast! Sometime between noon and 2pm, Robert Sawyer (who runs helping hands international ministries that builds the orphanages) would arrive with Carmen’s homemade lunch and we would seek a shady seat on Carmen’s father’s porch (just a short walk from our site).


The afternoon work was always cooler as an afternoon breeze seemed to give us a second wind. Mark was probably one of the people who got stuck with all the really heavy cement work and yet we could always talk him into one more load! Between five and six we would head back to our hotel for a quick shower or dip in the pool. From there we sometimes found time to play with the children at the Casa Cuna or Lionel homes. Then small groups would head off to El’central Colima for a late dinner, a cold cerveza and an ice cream cone. The guys would sit around and listen to the local music while smoking Cuban cigars. I personally loved the guacamole!


Most nights the team would meet back at the hotel to share the great experiences of the day, laugh about the crazy stuff, review the schedule for the next day and ask for God’s protection and safety of our team as we tackled the next day. Going to sleep was sometimes hard as so many thoughts of the children raced through your head, but eventually the body would give in and the roosters let you know it was morning. The bed bugs had favorites and it was not surprising to find my roommates Nicky and Leah covered with sores each morning.


Of course the children broke my heart. These kids come from all types of desperate situations. Regardless of their past, the are overflowing with love and joy. It was not uncommon to have multiple toddlers all hugging and crawling on my lap at the same time. I was able to meet several amazing women who have moved to Colima to help care for the kids. Diane (Canada BC), Gina (Guadalajara), Kristine (Detroit), Michelle (Grand Rapids), and Jessica (Allendale) all have visited on teams and have decided to stay. I can understand how easy it would be to move, as there is such need with 140 children! I hope to visit again someday soon and give them a hand. I found a lot in common with Gina with her love for art, cats, and good conversation. Ella es hermosa y divertida!

So many children touched my heart, it not only was hard to part with them but it would be impossible tell about all of them personally. All unique and beautiful! I plan to stay in touch with one special girl named Nayeli at "La Casa De Leonel". She is a quiet girl who is very smart and active. As you can tell by the photo of her she is very pretty too with a big smile (two front teeth gone). I plan to sponsor and write her often. I also was able to spend a lot of time with a neat little girl named Daniela (4). Her and her brother Christian (3) have had a past filled with abuse and abandonment but are slowly adjusting and finding lots of love in the Casa Cuna home.

On our last work night the children through us a big fiesta with singing, dancing, tambourines, flags and games. It was a blast. Unfortunately while hoping in the sack race (and ahead I might mention), I heard a loud snap noise in my leg. I quickly sat down so that I would not fall. Turns out that I ruptured my Achilles tendon. I was not in much pain, but I had lots of little voices praying for me. Tina and Robert took me to see Dr Nina a missionary doctor who put me in a walking cast. I was glad to have Tina there to try to translate with her 6 weeks of Spanish class. It was strange to have my little sister looking out for me, but I knew we would be ok as long as we were together. One more story to tell! I had surgery Tuesday 3-14-06 where they reconstructed my severed Achilles tendon with another tendon in my leg. I have 10 more weeks on crutches. We did end up winning the race! A great guy from our team, Tom, was an unyielding sentinel through the trip home. My lack of independence was much more painful than my leg. The injury seems so small compared to the amazing adventure we had.

I could tell a hundred stories... but I will save them until till later. To view a collection of my photos, click here: Colima. You can also learn more about the orphanage...
The Home Of Love and Protection For Children.