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I am a traveling STORYTELLER photographer & humanitarian telling epic life stories around the globe. We are based out of Denver, Kansas City or wherever you're from.  proving you can be both a goofball & hopeless romantic, if not adventuring, you can find me cuddling with my fur babies on the couch with my laptop & a glass of milk or renovating an old vintage trailer of some sort with
my husband.

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Mexico Missions trip ’17

Tijuana Mexico, Mexico Missions Trip, Puente De Amistad, Mexico, Jana Marie Photography, Mexico USA borderI say it every year… this is hands down one of my favorite weeks of my every year. Hurricanes and earth shattering conditions couldn’t keep me from this trip. We typically have a group that heads down to Tijuana in the spring, when I am coming out of my “less busy” season, but this past year we ended up going in September. Yes! The heart of my most insane fall wedding & portrait season and a team of 11 of us odd balls (whom none had ever been on this trip before, except 4 of us) are going to build an entire home in 4 days. Miracle I know, but God speed and God willing it gets done every year! Me hardly functioning, having lost my voice after day 3, having 6 weddings & events around the 14 days we traveled to Mexico, lets just say I had used about every bit of battery life for this girl’s body. It’s February now and I’m just NOW fully recovered from my exhausting fall. But God provides for me every morning, and my purpose is greater than my tiredness. When I am weak, He is strong!

Over the course of our 14+ years continuing our mission in Tijuana, Mexico, we’ve met so many incredible people here and they have all become our family! My very first trip way back in (I think) 2005, was when Mexico quickly became a home away from home for me. One of my favorite places on Earth! Our group of friends has built over 15 homes for families, a food kitchen, have worked on schools, held many VBS’s, visited orphanages and more. We love this community so much and to be a part of God’s grace and His story for the local people here is always so life changing & humbling. I’m always honored to be able to attend this trip and use my hands to help build a HOME for a family. And most importantly to use my hands to hug all these gorgeous faces from the littles to the olders! This culture is one of the most loving, selfless, kind, fun groups of people I’ve ever met!

The families we build for love God and attend their local church regularly, but for some reason didn’t currently have a roof over their head. They’ve been selected by the local organization we build with (Puente De Amistad) and local pastors who team up to bless someone who is desperately in need and who has continued to praise the Lord no matter their circumstances. Our group understands that our circumstances don’t define us and that we were made to serve one another with our individual gifts and talents. To lift a brother and sister up when they have fallen and to love our neighbor near and far.

Whether you could bless through prayers, finances, or your physical hands, we are so grateful for the team of people who had a part in this miracle. We wouldn’t be able to build these homes if it wasn’t for everyone’s support!

To think of the fears these families and parents might carry, overwhelmed, not knowing if their loved ones or their belongings were safe behind walls made of scraps and sheets. These are well deserving families. I remember when Guadalupe, the mother we built for this past Sept 2017 who is in her elder years said, “I never thought i’d be a home owner.” My heart crumbled! And now her and her husband Pilar can provide a safe place for their family of 7+ to live together, safe from harm with a lock and key, with confidence, protected from the heavy rains, where they can pray together and play together, where they can invite their friends over for their delicious food, and to create stories to share with their family for generations.

Again, we all thank you, no matter what kind of part you had in this big or small, it is all HUGE to this family and they and we are forever grateful! God is so good!

See some of my favorite moments from this 2017 trip below the images…

Some of my favorite moments from our 2017 trip:

  • Visiting the local churches is always a great experience. But this year, our very own Terra Paialii stood up in front of complete strangers in another country and shared her testimony that moved us to tears. So grateful for her being there this year and opening up about her story!
  • I loved that we had a lot of young muscles and personalities this year. Only Paul, Lisa, Alec and I had been before. But we needed a team to go and I recruited hard. We got 5 rookies to come and I think it was one of my favorites having so many of my good friends with me! Calories burnt working vs laughing you ask?… I’m not sure which burned more.
  • Taking Guadalupe shopping to find her some special needs and home items to furnish the home. Grocery shopping, printing a team photo for the wall to surprise her on the dedication day and thrift store shopping. We found her a push walker and chair, which she really wanted so that she could feel better about getting around. Her health hadn’t been doing good lately so this was such a good find!
  • Getting my brand new Mavic Pro Drone stuck in the crazy neighborhood power lines while trying to land it from the roof. Thank the LORD for Travis catching it below as we untangled and knocked it off safely.
  • Alec showing us his “exercise equipment” back at the base. Haha. Guess you’ll always wonder..
  • Meeting the new pup at the base. Will forever miss you Chimbu!
  • All the bro hugs aka the guys hugging Paul and hilariously making him feel uncomfortable.
  • Drew and Jana’s “snuggle hugs” at the base that were always broke up by Travis, our base missionary. So funny!
  • Travis’ little boy having a “crush” on Terra and being so excited to see her every day. It’s like none of us were there but her when he got home from school.
  • Visiting last year’s Food Kitchen Build (aka one of our favorite super humans, Candelaria) to see its touch of “home,” it’s tremendous growth in numbers of kids and families coming for food and to learn about Jesus. Man, I truly think Candelaria is a walking angel. A few years ago she started to see a need in her neighborhood. The local kids weren’t eating, so she started feeding them morning and after school and that quickly became 200+ kids and their families. All on her own time and mostly with her own dime. Thankfully now there are organizations to help provide some food and tables/chairs, and she has a few helpful hands and loving hearts to help her do God’s work for their neighborhood. I strongly believe she will have a line of hundreds of friends following her into Heaven some day.
  • Our group was praying over Candelaria’s feeding kitchen, and we look up to see her instead praying over one of our group members, Melissa. She said God told her to pray over her and she (believe it) had a scare of some yucky cancerous crap that miraculously disappeared after this situation. (Did I mention Candelaria’s a literal angel on Earth?)
  • Another favorite memory was because of Candelaria. Without her even telling us, she hopped on the bus and headed over to the new home we were building for Pilar and Guadalupe and she SURPRISED US (what a gal), and helped us build. She wanted to extend her blessings and be a blessing for someone else. Can you believe it? And she came multiple days to help when she could. And brought her daughter and grandson Isaac to help a few days also! The list goes on… she even brought food to serve us for snacks while we worked.
  • Visiting the zoo with the team, Candelaria and her daughter and grandson! Ziplining, Taco Locos, paddling in the little two seaters (man that was exhausting)
  • Meeting Fernando, one of our new translators and his super sweet daughter who hung out and painted her toes with us the first night we were there!
  • We had a couple of guys from California come down and help us. They were a huge blessing and provided a lot of the finances to help pay for this home so it was neat meeting them and having them help us with part of the build.
  • and the list goes on….

 

If you’d like, view more of our photos or learn more, read our daily journal that Terra wrote every morning while in Mexico on our Facebook group. If you’d like to donate, please visit our Go Fund Me Page here: https://www.gofundme.com/MexicoMissionspdat

And if you’re ever interested in being a part of our group that goes to build every year, reach out in the comments below. I’d love to share more of my heart for this trip with you!

Tell me also in the comments, what some of your favorite experiences serving others has been…

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