VBS and Painting

Tecate Travel Blog

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the pool, the tree, the hill
Although my watch alarm did not go off (or else I slept through it...), I still woke up with a half hour before breakfast, plenty of time.  I tried to move quietly around the room since several girls were still sleeping.  Ashley had already headed to work in the kitchens; others were taking quiet time outside of the bunkhouse.  I was dressed and just heading out the door when Heidi came by to see if our room was up yet.  I walked down the dirt path to the basketball court and turned to go into the small pool area; breakfast would be in an outdoor pavilion just past the pool.  I smiled at the sight: a tall, skinny pine tree stretched to the sky, a rocky hill rising behind.  I ate more for breakfast than usual: cereal, muffin, fruit, an egg dish (egg, bacon, peppers, onions--very good!).
coming from the backside of the kitchen
  After breakfast I quickly brushed my teeth, refilled my water bottle, grabbed my backpack, and headed down to catch the first bus out to the site.
The bus was scheduled to leave at  7 with the VBS crew and some of the builders.  We left about quarter after but hit a snag just after leaving the main town area.  The medic came up to the front of the bus: "We need to go back, someone in one of our trucks is having a seizure."  I gave directions to the driver in Spanish and we all watched the road for a pulled over vehicle.  Unable to spot it, the medic Steve radioed back to the leader.  We stopped, waiting to hear where to go.  Our leader Randy decided to take the man in trouble to a medical center and sent us on to the building site.
the church from the backside (which was what we saw first)
  We set off again, a bit more sober than earlier.
Our energy returned as we arrived in the El Niño valley.  Our driver let us off with a short walk up to the church.  Walking the dirt road alongside the railroad tracks, I could understand the driver's decision.  It was barely wide enough for the bus in spots and ruts and potholes made the travel less than smooth.  We stopped in front of the church and looked up the hill.  Built out of concrete, the church stood about halfway up the entire hill, its front facing away from us and onto the road that split the hill's upper and lower sections.  The house building teams were setting up next to the road.  The furniture team was setting up on the first "terrace" below the church.
Seth and Jenn with sign for VBS
  We climbed past the second terrace (with the outhouse baño) and explored the church's space.  It was built on two levels with an outdoor stairwell connecting the two.  The upstairs was one large room with two small bumpouts.  Downstairs was split into basically two rooms, a front one with real windows and a little storage space and a back one with no windows but fairly open to the hallway that ran between the two rooms and split the lower level into two halves.  The Arts and Crafts (Manualidaes) team chose the front room for their space due to the light and two tables.  Music (Música) took the back room.  Because the Donations team needed the upstairs of the church, the lesson and snack station (me!) ended up down the hill where a little shed and yard gave us space and a few trees provided shade.
Becky of the Verde Group
  Recreation (Deportes) received the second terrace for their activities.
The kids arrived between 9 and 9:30.  Some came up to the church on their own, others we met out on the road and invited in.  Each kid received a bracelet with one of our four group colors: red, yellow, green, blue.  Emily had made little banners for each group leader to carry in its color, great idea for catching the kids' attention.  We also put nametags on each child although figuring out the spelling for the names was a little interesting at times.  Sometimes we just let the older kids write their own names and addresses on the sign-in clipboards.  I noticed that no one in this small town had numbers for their homes, just names of either streets or the general area.
at the end of the morning
  After our time in Mexico had ended, the pastor would use the sign-in sheets to continue reaching out to the families and meeting their needs.  We tried to keep the groups evenly numbered but honestly, it didn't really happen especially since we would gain and lose kids throughout the morning.
The theme for today was "God made me special."  I read the story of creation (thankfully, Joey had ordered VBS supplies in Spanish as well as English so I had good translations to use) with kid participation.  For specific words they had movements (such as flapping their arms when I said "pájaro" for bird).  The lesson station was also where the kids got their snack: a box of fruit juice and pretzels.
We gathered all the kids together at the second terrace to close the day where the kids repeated the theme of the day after me and also sang a song that they had done earlier with Jenn and Amanda.
Seth and Pacho
  I reminded them to come back tomorrow and most of them headed off with the craft of the day in hand: a puppet in the shape of a hand supposedly decorated to resemble each child.
Around noon we had lunch below the church.  I had expected peanut butter sandwiches and Gatorade.  The kitchen staff put together an amazing spread:  a variety of sandwiches (ham, turkey, peanut butter), chips, pretzels, carrots, celery, broccali, tomatoes, oranges, cookies, red licorice twists, and bags of trail mix.  I filled my plate and joined a group eating in the front room of the church's lower level.
The afternoon found the VBS crew looking for places to help out.  I hesitantly approached a Mexican family painting the large boards that would eventually form the walls of the pop up houses and asked if they needed help.
view from the church windows
  The mother accepted, and we spent some time working together.  It was mainly the mother, her oldest daughter, and myself working on the panels; the younger kids were painting smaller items or resting in the shade.  Because I offered my help in Spanish, the two women began to talk with me.  We covered the basics: names and ages.  I was amazed to learn that the mother had 7 children and was only 3 years older than me.  She had such love and pride for her kids; she spoke of how children are a blessing from God.  When they found out I was a teacher, they were excited and wanted to talk about school.  I enjoyed comparing my students and classroom experiences to those of Alejandra (the 16-year old daughter).
Once we had painted a bunch of boards (a light tan), I said my good-byes and headed up to the main level of the church to see how donation sorting was going.
shoes
  Most of the shoes and clothes had been moved into piles of proper sizes, but the food still needed bagged.  We had rice, beans, oranges, apples, and carrots for the bags.  We filled bag after bag, continuing even when we started to run out of some of the foods (we just added more apples and oranges!).  I found one tiny girl adorable.  She would hold her hands up for a filled bag and then run it over to the growing piles of bags.  She was so eager to work that she would intercept us on the way to the pile even!
With the number of workers we had at Donations, we were finished in time for the first bus back to the ranch.  I took advantage of the little bit of extra time to put on my swimsuit and get in the pool for about 10 minutes.
Josh's jump
  After a day of heat and dust the cool water felt fantastic.
I would get to experience more of the pool later that evening after dinner when there was a Belly Flop Contest.  No, I didn't participate (I would have made an extremely pitiful splash compared to the guys who jumped in) but I did have fun watching from my perch on the wall near the deep end of the pool.  Memorable moments: Patriotic Speedo Guy, the chair leg snapping as one guy launched himself, Josh climbing to the top of an 8-ft ladder for his plunge.  The winner made a huge splash, the water hitting four/five feet up the side wall.  The contest was not complete without Randy getting pushed into the pool as well.
After the contest we reconvened down at the Warehouse for an update on where things were and a chance for a little bit more fun related to the theme of The Search for the Holy Nail.
a Spam castle
  Since Monty Python did some skits related to Spam, we were issued the challenge of building something out of Spam.  My table created a model of what the church would look like when completed (with the addition of some animal cracker statues).  More talented groups built a castle or recreated our buses crossing the border.
Growing tired, we split for the night.  Some people stayed up to play cards while others headed straight to the bunkhouses and some rest.  I would sleep better this night, only waking up a few times instead of nearly every hour like last night.
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the pool, the tree, the hill
the pool, the tree, the hill
coming from the backside of the ki…
coming from the backside of the k…
the church from the backside (whic…
the church from the backside (whi…
Seth and Jenn with sign for VBS
Seth and Jenn with sign for VBS
Becky of the Verde Group
Becky of the Verde Group
at the end of the morning
at the end of the morning
Seth and Pacho
Seth and Pacho
view from the church windows
view from the church windows
shoes
shoes
Joshs jump
Josh's jump
a Spam castle
a Spam castle
white flower
white flower
cactus
cactus
near the steps
near the steps
train
train
bags of food
bags of food
a little one sampling a donated bo…
a little one sampling a donated b…
our bus
our bus
splash!
splash!
salvaging the broken chair
salvaging the broken chair
black and white night
black and white night
the ranch sign
the ranch sign
Tecate
photo by: diisha392