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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.

A journal of outreach in Mexico 2018

Septeber 28 – October 3, 2018

I’m not sure i’ll ever be able to do justice in explaining the magnitude of the mountain moving-powerful-tear jerking-laugh till it hurts-God centered week we spend in Tijuana, Mexico each year building a home in 4-5 days for a fantastic family. I say it every time… it is my favorite week of my every year! And this one was more special than most.

I’ve been going on these trips to help build houses for families in the communities near Tijuana for over 14 years. My husband has never been able to come in the 8 years we’ve been together. He’s been a teacher and never been able to take off. He feels as if he knows our family and friends there just because he hears of their stories so often and sees their pictures in our house. It was seriously so special for him to finally get to come on a trip with me. And we got to dedicate the house to the family together which meant a lot to me. We also have some of our favorite people that have been able to come for a couple of years now, and we even had 3 new friends come down. This year was one of my favorites. There’s just so many joyful things that happen this week and it’s so incredible seeing how God is working in our friends lives there, in the city there, the churches, and how he uses all involved to grow their hearts beyond what we are capable of without being there first hand.

This year we built a home for a mom (Aida center in photo) and dad (Luis, far left) that were in their early 30’s. They had four kids between 9 and 14: three boys (from left to right in back, Aron, Luis and Isaac) and their youngest, a girl (front and center like the doll that she is, Estralla) or “Star” as we called her. They had a pregnant pup we loved on tons named Nina, and lots of chickens and roosters in a little coop. Dad had his shop next door and lots of family as neighbors.

You can see the house they were living in  just below their family photo (provided by the Puente De Amistad staff before our trip). Although one of the best houses we’ve seen, with running water, a toilet and a tiny kitchen, there is still an abundance of needs for this large in number and incredible family. (Aren’t they all so beautiful!)

In the home, the kids had all shared a full bed that played as their bed and also their couch tucked in a small room in the house they were currently living. Every year, we take some of the donations we receive and we ask mom and dad when we get there what it is that they need (because who’s to say what we think they need, is what they actually need right?) We had already come from the USA with backpacks and school supplies and a few toys for the kiddos, but wanted to save that donation money for what ma and pa needed. Of course they selflessly said they’d love a bed for each of their kids. So thanks to ALL the donations we receive from all our friends and family near and far, we took mama Aida to buy four twin beds for her kids. That moment alone was moving enough for the whole week and ended with many joyful tears on all our parts. What a moment to rejoice and praise God for. And don’t you worry.. we couldn’t let mom and dad NOT get something special. They too needed a bed, so we pretended as if we were buying ourselves a bed (don’t think she fell for it), and had her pick out the best, which we gave to THEM! Ahh, let us all just soak in what it felt like to see a true need met by a really special family! Aida and Luis work so hard for their kids putting all the money they make towards the kids schooling and extra curricular activities.

Their oldest boy was just voted MVP on his soccer team and played in a really big tournament the day we dedicated the home. Their kids are also learning piano and guitar and we may or may not have over heard dad singing and playing the piano when we arrived one morning. ::smiles:: Their kids were all so kind, hard working and so very special to us. We really enjoyed getting to know this whole family.

So without writing a novel, that was just a few of the stories from our week I wanted to make sure were shared with you. One of my favorites is making that run to the photo store to frame a photo of our group with their friends and family while printing off some other candids from the week. GOSH I love giving the gift of moments and memories. Thank you to Melissa Slater and Philip, my charming husband for grabbing my camera and photographing quite a bit with me this week.

…..Aida and Luis had so many family members living around their home with his sister living next door and his shop on the other side. Papa Luis had 6+ siblings and they both took off all week to spend it helping us build their home, with family members popping in here and there to help hammer and work.

Let me tell you, language barriers SUCK! We wanted nothing more to just ask them all about their life and what they love to do. But instead, we played charades while painting next to one another, assuming we knew what the other was conveying. Ug. Or played lots of games, gave lots of hugs and tickle wars with the kiddos and that is always my favorite! One year I swear there will be no more language barriers and we can laugh and cry all day together! And I can’t wait.

If ever a legacy I could personally leave, let it be that we allowed God to use us as a tool to further HIS Kingdom. Let it be that we loved families in our own country, the families in Mexico and around the globe, and that borders meant nothing to us. That we could be a blessing, that would be a blessing for many more. We believe that generosity ripples generosity ripples generosity. And if THIS is the legacy I leave, I can say that i’ve lived a life greater than one I could have designed myself, thanks to God as my captain!

A forever thanks to all those who gave with their hands, their hearts and prayers, or their finances. All are just as equally important and we as a whole couldn’t do this without the whole army. Thank you to Armando and Fernie for lugging us around town and to Rosarito to show us the fun stops in Mexico and for being our hearts and our voices through translating the whole week (which I know has got to make your brains fried). And for Marciel, Travis and the whole muscle squad for constantly being our backbone and for continuing to patiently help educate us on how to be better craftsman and builders, to Amalia and the WHOLE Puente staff for feeding us, providing us a wonderful stay, driving us to and from the airport, to Walmart a million times, and to get gifts for the family. You all don’t even know how grateful we are for your friendship and support. So glad to do life with you and the Puente De Amistad team!

Enjoy a glimpse into our very special week in Tijuana, Mexico. All photos credited to myself, my iPhone, Melissa Slater and Philip Enloe. Thank you all for helping capture the week.

(Might I add we had physically able to come: five people from Church of the Four Corners in Independence, Missouri, two people from Life Connection Church in Grain Valley, Missouri, one from Multiply church in Kansas City, Kansas and one from San Diego, California. I love that we join together for this each year and it doesn’t matter where we are from. We all come together for a common goal for the Maker of the Universe).

 

 

Fun Day Saturday and Sunday-

Landed in San Deigo and was picked up to head to Tijuana. Of course we ate at In-N-Out Burger and settled into the base. Sunday, a visit to Candelaria who we built for two years ago, we visited church, ate at one of our favorite taco stands, visited the house slab and prayed over it.

 

Build Day 1-

Get those walls up! Paint, paint, paint. Work, work work.

Build Day 2-

“WE FORGOT KELSIE!” …Once we assembled the team, more wiring & sheet-rocking.

Build Day 3-

Mudding, painting, roofing, time for portraits and lots of playing! Then off to church with the family we are building for.

Build Day 4-

Sanding, painting, more wiring, windows, interior and exterior. We’re all over the place. But practically done. Oh, and portrait session with little bit Maya back at the base.

Build Day 5-

Our favorite day! Finishing touches, more shopping for goodies, dedicating the house and loving on each other. Sad to say goodbyes! Lots of craftsmanship and love poured into this home.

Fun evening Friday –

Visited Rosarito, shopped, ate some great Italian food and packed up for Saturday’s leave.

Leave Day Saturday –

Good bye Mexico. Sad day.

See the full gallery here.

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