Friday, April 18, 2014

Tlacolula Oaxaca Mexico Mission Trip

When the opportunity came up at our church that they planned on going back to Oaxaca in the springtime Joey jumped on the opportunity and signed himself up. He speaks Spanish farely well it was a no brainer to jump on board. After several weeks went by I walked past the list and saw there was still room on there for more to go and I just grabbed the pencil and jotted down my name too.  Later on that day I told Joey what I had done and he was thrilled.  Backing up a few steps the previous summer our daughter Hannah had gone on this same trip and she fell in love with this place Cristo Por Su Mundo and the people and children that were living there. She left a part of her heart in this mountainous region of Mexico, the a place known as land of the short dark people with over 150 people groups, and the stories she shared were amazing. I guess it was drawing us all in and giving us a desire to experience what she had experienced even Nick was being drawn in.  Long story short Joey, myself, Hannah and Nick (all four of us) were able to eventually sign up.  When the day finally arrived it was a bit stressful as with any trip. Joey had to leave construction sites unfinished and in the care of his workers, I had to leave behind my two babies and make sure my mom knew all the details for the week ahead and making sure the farm animals were going to be taken care of, etc...  during these last rushed hours you begin to wonder and question the Lord if this is what he wanted after all. Then in my devotion I found reassurance in Isaiah 26:3 it says He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in Him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord. Being receptive and attentive and I found myself looking forward to what the Lord was going to teach me and my family and so excited about how he might use me(us) as well!!

First day of arrival was quite busy.  Jill the administrator of the children's home picked us up at the airport as we waved through the glass to the other group from our church who had just spent the week before us there. Here's a few pic of airport fun and plane ride there...

When we finally got loaded up into the van we went right into Oaxaca and it was quite amazing. All the shacks and unfinished buildings and street vendors and then every once in a while a cool area but mostly poverty stricken.

The van ride was so scary and I just had to look out the windows and pray we weren't going to crash any second;) That said by the end of the week I was starting to figure out the road rules which were zero... well maybe not zero but close to it!! After about 30 minutes we arrived in the town of Tlacolula and exchanged money then we headed to our destination.
This is the visitor center and my first thought.. not too shabby!  Joey and I actually got our own room and as we arrived a sweet Canadian couple Frank and Pauline (whom we would come to love) informed us it was the honeymoon suite :) Everyone else had nice cozy bunks.. Hehe. That was a privilege to being the only married couple on the trip.  Here's a pic of all the wonderful folks from our group that I love so dearly. After spending 8 days with them watching them serve Jesus with such loving and giving hearts is a memory I will always cherish.  Folks you just pass by at church and briefly say hi to all of the sudden become someone you look up to, relate to, enjoy being around, and learn so much from... I'm forever grateful and thankful to the Lord for putting us together way back when and knowing it was going to be just right!
That evening and the next day was all about travel. We ate in Tlacolula and also visited the oldest market there before church which was so awesome. I'm pretty sure I could have spent a couple days exploring it. Fresh produce, livestock, clothing... anything you can imagine!! 
Then after church (which was awesome preached by Pastor Aaron and interpreted by Laura) we headed to Oaxaca.  We got to see the oldest tree, a cypress of sorts, cathedrals and an old downtown area surrounded by mountains and huge markets.  Ate some grasshoppers and enjoyed this new culture we literally just fell right into.  After our evening meal they wrapped up our leftovers and as we exited the building not two seconds of our feet hitting the sidewalk a little boy, probably 3 or 4 years old tugged Joey's arm in hopes of retrieving our leftovers... our hearts broke and tears shed as we watched him run over to his brother and grandmother and feed them with his awesome food finds for the day.  We knew then that our journey of serving and giving had begun.  I couldn't help but think of how many times we have brought home leftovers and a few days later finding them in the fridge only to be thrown out... and the Lord reminded me of no matter how down and out we may feel we are blessed here in America. Here's some pics of Oaxaca

Oh those grasshoppers... (they do not taste like beef jerky, NICK)
Ahem. Anyways Monday rolled around and our feet hit the floor running.  We started by watching the children do their pledge to the flag and other things and prayers (oh so precious) and then we were all off to our jobs assigned by either Jill or Ian (carpenter and maintenance man). The women did lots and lots of painting and the men did sheetrock work, school building work, puttying cracks from earthquakes and so on.  I was exhausted after just the first day of work.. little did I know the Lord would give us all strength to do way more than any of us thought we could handle.  The men were a huge blessing in getting the roof put on the school building ready for concrete and us girls finished painting the shop doors (started by the previous week peeps) and then we got to paint all 4 dorm rooms for the little girls and the teen girls.  Meanwhile we were all involved in either helping the cook, Anita, doing dishes, setting up for meals, playing with all the kids running around and falling in love with them, helping Santiago, the landscaper and gardener, and many other things that are going on throughout the day.  One night we babysat all the kids so the house parents could have a 2 hour break (which was very rare and they are the happiest folks). We had 13 girls in our watch and I was continually counting them in fear we would lose one even though that really couldn't happen (very secure place).  During our week we also got to visit a women's prison and a men's prison. A lot of the children's parents are in prison... I only went to the women's prison and very reluctantly I might add. My kids were with us as well and I wasn't quite sure about it.  Once we got in the preacher's wife asked if anyone wanted to go to the infirmary with her and I was like heck no but in a split second of thought the Lord spoke to me and out popped "I'll go".  So while the others went to the chapel I was off to all the sick prisoners so I thought but once we got there I understood enough to realize we were just going to visit a pregnant lady and when we got into her cell I quickly realized she was no longer pregnant and a sweet 3 day old precious baby was placed in my arms.  I held him for a good 30 min. and we spoke to each other and prayed and read psalm 91.  The Lord really showed up as we understood each other and the Lord gave me Spanish words I didn't think I knew. Tears of joy were shed as we hugged and loved on this sweet person who just like the rest of us got caught up in sin and in her case let it rule her to the point of imprisonment.  She's now serving the Lord and I think and pray for her often that when she gets out she will continue to draw closer to him and raise that baby in the fear and admonition of the Lord. After leaving there we joined the others in the chapel and worshipped the Lord while Joey played guitar, read scripture and enjoyed small chats with these sweet ladies.  I was touched there and was so thankful I got out of my comfort zone and jumped right in (only with His help I can do this).  The men later on went to the Men's prison and that was a whole other experience of filthiness and hard hearted men.  They enjoyed seeing the Lord soften their hearts as the pastor spoke. 
Most of our time was spent at the orphanage though loving on sweet babies and falling in love with the staff.  After about 5 days there and finally starting to get into the groove of things you realize you don't want to leave.  Things are starting to feel like home and I'm ready to have my two other babies sent to me.  I start getting those feelings Hannah had described to me about her own experiences that summer before and understand that I too will be leaving a part of my heart in Oaxaca with these wonderful people who are so sweetly investing their lives into these children and not only to them but all of the Oaxacan people. Here's some pics of where the children and where they stay and pics of our every day there... 

Pictures can say a thousand words.. Sorry this was so long but my experience here will be forever cherished in my heart!! Until we meet again Oaxaca. :)


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