Greetings from my second home, the Villa Marina Hotel in Downtown Ensenada! Good for them for having a computer with internet access in the lobby 🙂 I hope everyone is doing well and staying cool. It’s been pretty chilly up to now, but today its really warm.
I just finished another great week with another fantastic group in Maneadero, one of the most impoverished areas of Baja California. The group was from the Vaughn Park Church of Christ in Montgomery, Alabama. Their trip each summer primarily focuses on house-building and medical outreach. I translated in the clinic, which is easily my favorite job, and we averaged about 30-40 per day and 50 on wednesday. Most of the people wanted vitamins but we were able to help with some infections and things like that as well.
Here’s an interesting fun fact: if you grew up in Brazil, like I did, you probably received a tuberculosis vaccine. That turned out to be kind of a relief for me when I had to ride along with an 11 year old girl to the clinic to get a chest x-ray to rule out TB. Never a dull moment here in Baja, I tell ya what.
Besides seeing many people in the clinic (which was run by 2 American nurses taking vitals and sending them in to see the Mexican Doctor), the group’s construction crew completed 2 houses for members of the church. Vaughn Park also bought enough food to assemble 80 food sets (one bag each of rice, beans, flour, sugar, salt, chocolate milk mix, and powdered laundry soap, a bottle of oil, a jar of instant coffee, 3 bags of pasta, a can of tomato sauce, and 3 cans of tuna) which were given out on Tuesday.
Carmen, the preacher’s wife has developed a good system for handing out the bags to the community. The church members received their bags on Sunday after church, and the community give-away was on Tuesday. In an impoverished area like Maneadero, this system may seem harsh to some, but its needed for healthy boubndaries. Her MO for community food sets is this: the week before the group arrives, the church begins advertising and driving home the point that community food bags will be given out and that tickets for the limited numbetr of bags will be issued at 7 AM on the morning of the give-away. She hands out the tickets and when they’re gone, they’re gone. Then she stands at the door of the church to call the ticket numbers until all the bags have been claimed.
As always, the best part of the week were the 3 baptisms last Sunday. I think they were all in the same family, but it was a man and 2 ladies. Siobhan, who was in El Zorillo last week just told me that they had 2 baptisms. ALSO, a local pastor’s son found Siobhan’s passport, Bible, photo album, Baja Missions songbook and a Jodi Picoult book that had been taken out of her bookbag and discarded on the street!! Kate and I went with her to meet him at an ice cream shop near the Villa Hotel to reclaim her stuff. She was really excited.
This week, I will be with another of my favorite groups (yes, everything is my favorite, I’m aware of my overuse of the word), from the Owens Crossroads Church of Christ in… Alabama! It’s an Alabama summer, for sure. They are kind of combining forces with another group from Guntersville, Alabama. Guntersville will be in San Vicente and OXR will be in Erendira (the most beautiful place in Baja besides Camalu). I’m not sure what we’ll be doing, but it will be a good week.
A note on the title of today’s post: last year, the catch phrase of the week was “I love you in Spanish”. “Te quiero”, or “i love you” in Spanish literally translates to “I want you”. Maneadero is such a special place, with so many special people who show strenght despite their abject poverty, that you can’t help but want them as a part of your life forever.
Por ejemplo (for example), I had to translate a conversation in which we told a lady there were just not enough funds to offer the individual help she was asking of us. Through her tears, she smiled and said ” I understand. Thanks for all your work”.
That makes her dear to me, the theft of my things 2 weeks ago obsolete and the work of God in Maneadero blatantly obvious. I’m on pins and needles for next week!