Wednesday, August 26, 2009

AbFab in Mexico - The Middle

The leader for the Mexico trip for many years, Pastor Carol, had a family tragedy before we left. Her husband was admitted to the hospital with heart failure. While we were in route to Mexico, he died. It was important to Pastor Carol that we continue with the mission plans and not let the families in Mexico down. One member, who had been to Mexico last year, was tagged as leader. (And yes that was the qualifications, that and of course that he was willing to be leader.) We kept in touch with Pastor Carol throughout the week and tried our best to make her proud.

Bright and early on Monday morning - actually the sun was not yet up - we headed towards the border. Jorge met us at the border to lead us to the Clinic. The twelve of us divided into two groups to work on each house. The men were divided equally and assigned to work on their house for the entire time. The woman worked on different houses throughout the week, although I have to say that the house that I was assigned to the first day (House 1) was to me, MY house. Each house was also assigned a Maestro to make sure the building is built correctly and a translator to help, you know, translate.

The houses are built out of concrete block. When we arrived the concrete floor had been poured and the first of the corners set.

First we moved the blocks into the center of the house and mixed the mortar. I helped the maestro, Julian, mix the mortar using the small amount of Spanish that I know and gestures. A bit later the translator tells us Julian speaks English. It turns out that he has been a student at a University in Georgia for several years.
Very funny Julian! Good thing I like you.

We did have fun all week teaching Julian, American expressions and jokes. The favorite - and funniest- was the "that's what she said" jokes.

I am not sure if you know this - but concrete blocks and mortar is heavy. It really heavy. The other thing you should know about building a house with concrete block is this - Early in the morning when it is the coolest and you are your freshest, the block have to be lifted a foot or two to be placed. At the end of the day, when the temperature and increased to something approaching a warm oven, the blocks must be lifted up higher- several feet higher. Some engineer should look into this problem and figure out how to build a house from the top down.

The entire week the wind blew. It was good because it kept the heat from completely baking us. However it also blew sand and grit into my eyes. I even had on my safety glasses.

The second day we began working with wood. While the rafters were going up, I was put on paint duty. Compared to concrete block, give me a paint brush any day. We set up workstations and began to get a rhythm in which we TURNED OUT some painted wood. The quality of the wood used for the houses was variable and we tried to pick out the best pieces for the doors. The rest of the wood we tried to cover up with as paint as well as possible.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

AbFab in Mexico - The beginning

Did you guess?

We left at 2:00 in two vans with a trailer full of house and school supplies. Although this mission trip was with my church, I only knew two of the twelve people on the trip. Luckily at two in the morning, that didn't even make me blink.

We stopped the first night in Waco in a, let's call it charming, Motel 6. We ate a great dinner at Rosa's Tortilla Factory and crashed for the night because the next day we were back on the road by 6:30. By about 3:00 that next afternoon (and yes days and nights were beginning to blend) we made it to Mercedes Texas and to our new home for six days.

The Methodist Church in Mercedes is part church and part dorm for Mission Workers in Mexico. The boys got a room, the girls got a room (we took the one with showers - Don't judge)

After we unloaded, the next step was to stock up on the needed food and supplies. The twenty plus hours in the van had given us time to finalize the menu and make the associated grocery list. The list was divided into five parts and we each went into the store to quickly gather our supplies. It was like a great big scavenger hunt. (By the way I may not have won on time, but I did get two carts full.)

I found out that if you are buying seven carts of groceries at one time, Walmart will open a lane just for you. (You can learn so MUCH on a mission trip.)

The team that was not shopping, began sorting all of our stuff into VBS stuff and new house stuff. That is what I officially called all the wonderful things that were graciously donated -- Thanks to all.

The next day began our adventure in Mexico.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Where was AbFab Geek?

First for some clues---

We left in the middle of the night.

This was my view for over twenty hours.

We worked hard.

And built two house for two families.

As an added bonus, (be still my engineering heart) we watched while a crew put in a new sewer line, complete with a brick manhole.