|The traditional Christmas eve picture|
Not this year. This year, I was on call for Christmas Eve so at 5 am, the phone rang and it was a patient that had been ready to go for a few days. The angels came at 5 am on Christmas day. I left the house before anyone was up and went to take care of the gentleman. It was sad but he was ready...
I drove home and woke everyone up to do Christmas. The coffee was made, I threw a few gifts in grocery bags, wrote names on them and threw them under the tree. I sat down to have my first cup of coffee and tell the kids that I didn't do much and the phone rang again. This time it was my sweet lady who had also passed away. I put my shoes back on and headed out. The kids and Jim went about getting ready to leave for our trip and Christmas morning was on hold.
This time when I got home, everything was ready for our trip to Mexico. The dogs were packed up, the fence was finished, the house was tidy and the kids were getting ready to pack. At 2pm on Christmas day, we got in the truck and headed out.
|Sleeping on each other like a pack of dogs|
We drove about 4 hours and found an open McDonald's for dinner and kept driving. We made it to Amarillo, Texas around 11pm that night. We stayed at a Comfort in and one of the kids slept on the cot and the other four of us got beds. Before we knew it, it was morning and time to get on the road again. We left Amarillo around 8 am and got to Del Rio, Texas, put our stuff in the hotel and went to dinner.
The next morning was "go time". We needed to be up, packed and ready to cross the border early. We met our team, prayed and dispersed into trucks. After a short drive to the border, a quick talk with the Mexican polizia and a quick sniff of our stuff by some scary looking dogs, we were thru and on our way to the building site.
|Standing where we are gonna build|
When we got to the building site, we met the family we were building for. It was a grandmother named Sylvia who had extended family on the compound. She was a lady in her 60's and why she got to be the winner of a new home is a mystery to me. Every time we go, I can look around and see people better off, but I can also see folks quite a bit worse off in these border towns.
Anyway, she was a delight to build for and she was there helping almost every step of the way.
We began by leveling the site, putting the forms in, and getting the concrete poured and prettied up.
|Leveling the concrete|
Then the group built the walls for when the concrete dries.
After dinner, we went back to a church to sleep. The girls slept in the pastor's office in our sleeping bags. Needless to say, I slept like a rock.
Day two was a big one. We stood walls, put the roof on, put black board and chicken wire over all of it and put doors and windows in. It was exhausting.
|End of day two|
Our grandma is having health problems and on day two, she had to take a 7 hour bus ride down to Monterrey, Mexico to have some tests. She came home the morning of day three with a folder full of test results and plans. I read them over and then did some health teaching with her as my daughter translated. She was very afraid of the testing and results and I was able to calm her a little bit.
That was a comfortable feeling for me...being the nurse and being able to tell her what she was looking at health wise.
On the last day, we put stucco on the whole house, on the inside, a group hung drywall and did the electrical work. When all was said and done, we had a house...
|Our family to their family|
I often get questions from people about doing things like this. "Why got to Mexico and build for them when there are so many folks in the US that need help?" I don't have an answer to that question really. I feel like I help here in the US but yes, it is a big undertaking to drive 16 hours, go to a place that has an unsafe reputation, and work like a dog to build an 11 x 22 foot home for someone I don't know. But isn't that the point? To do for others what stirs you?
I am struggling with my faith these days. It feels forced, like doing the same thing every Sunday with no meaning behind it. I want to live my faith...my love for humanity, not just recite the words. I want to be someone who can be counted upon to love even when it is the hardest path to take. I feel like doing things like this put my faith, my love for God...into action.
Christians come in all shapes and sizes. They come with all different beliefs and faith traditions. If you want my opinion, that's okay, that's the human side of all of us. What I don't feel is okay, is the lack of love and using love as a verb and not a thing that swirls in the air when two people are attracted.
I have had the privilege of seeing so much love this year...the love of husbands to dying wives, of wives to dying husbands, of folks stepping out of the box and doing the most uncomfortable thing...
seeing someone in need of human touch and doing it, no matter how dirty, smelly or drunk as they are. I have seen it and I am humbled. I want to be that person every day and my hope is that this trip watching my husband and kids along with the others on the trip as an example...I can do it.
Here's to 2013 and using love as a verb...
We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,