Friday, March 27, 2015

Leaving Mexicali

Time is flying! I can’t believe it’s Wednesday already. All the tarps got put down and the huge shade structures raised like barn-raising in the old days. When it came time to raise them all the men from their various work projects would be called over to hoist the massive awnings.

The first awning was grabbed by a gust of wind and attacked the van. We rescued the van and found the awning support posts had crumpled beyond repair. Oh well, the guys just moved on to the next one. Us gals put up 10 more tents, finished the curtains and bought the initial groceries for the incoming youth group of 130 people. One of the ladies, Deb got sick and we gingerly transported her back to the base camp.

I finally saw a road runner. Everyone kept telling me they’d seen one. It became the camp joke to report to me that they’d seen yet another road runner. I told them they were all lying through their teeth. They even said two ran right through our camp! I finally saw one about 100 feet away. They are little tiny things, maybe a foot tall and scrawny. It looked like a horizontal stick on legs.

We grabbed the other Heidi and raced (actually 30 minutes in stop and go traffic) out to the country to see Jose and Daisy’s house. The last time we were there they’d just gotten up the drywall and we wrote blessings on it. Now it’s a little palace, as Daisy sweetly put it. The girls showed us the red ant hill…yuck. Daisy, of course, made us eat apple pie. Then we raced back to base camp because Ed, the super-hero construction-dude, had barbecued dinner for us. As I type this I feel the weight of way to much food in my tummy.

Joe bailed on the women (there was the arrival of three college men) and came back to the comfort of the hotel. He’s exhausted. We go back in the morning and put the final touches on the Camp and then we’re off to the United States. Hopefully border crossing will be boring and uneventful. We fly home late-late Thursday night.

This is an “Our work is never done” kind of job. We hustled over to the base camp first thing and got back to work. Time was running out. The other Heidi was down with flu-like symptoms. Fortunately Deb had already recovered.

I got stuck with the task of assigning the fifteen tents to the adults coming down. Just because they’re Christians doesn’t mean they can’t get a little fussy over which tent they get stuck with. I don’t know most of them, so it became my job to put little tags on tents.

The curtains didn’t stay up like we’d hoped because the floor painting job continued on through the night, and the windows had to be left open. The masking tape didn’t hold up too well in the breeze. Oh well it isn’t the first time we’ve done a job and come back to discover it didn’t work under different conditions.

The last of the shade structures went up, the garbage box was built, the ice chests cleaned and ready to go, and the local pastors started showing up to say goodbye to us. The youth group will be arriving Saturday. After hugs and kisses, and an impromptu group prayer, seven of us clambered into the minivan and headed for the border. An hour and a half later we crossed over. First American stop? In-And-Out Burger of course.

We ended our trip with a lazy couple of hours wandering around the Marina Village in San Diego. All in all it was a successful trip. We accomplished more than we anticipated considering 3 of our 7 got sick. But, as I said the work was by no means done.

Now I’m sitting in the back yard relishing the cool delta breeze. No dust, no mosquitoes, and no road runners, just my very happy little kitty.

Mission Trip to Mexicali

We flew down to San Diego Sunday and spent the day wandering around Coronado Island. I’d never been there. When I saw the bridge going over to the island I decided I didn’t want to go after all. Normally I’m not afraid of heights, but certain bridges really make me squirm. It’s the ones with a minimal barrier and they go on forever. For some reason it gives me the willies if they turn right or left while over water. Once we got there I was fine, though I dreaded the return trip :)

We sat and had a late breakfast at a beach restaurant, then walked on the sand. Very important to walk on the sand with shoes off. Beginner surfers played in the calm waves and children made sand castles. I missed the dogs I’ve become accustomed to in Carmel-by-the-Sea.

It’s interesting that this is the second time I’ve felt nervous about the people around me while traveling. The first was near the LA airport in California. We accidently ended up at a scary hostel. This time in San Diego I was cautious around all the people who were higher than a kite…drunk, stoned, whatever. I couldn’t believe how many people appeared to be living on the street. One lady became aggressive in a CVS store (in the posh Gas Lamp District) towards a young Asian couple. She started screaming at them, the security guard kicked her out, and then she chased them down the street hitting them with her flip-flops. About six or seven people were following the chase trying to get the crazy lady to stop. I yelled to the couple to go back into the CVS. By then the girl was in tears. It was awful.

So now I’m in scary-dangerous Mexicali and I feel safe. Weird. I haven’t seen anyone staggering down the street trying to hit someone with a flip-flop yet.

We are here on a set-up trip for our church’s annual Easter week mission trip for our teens. When they arrive the base campground has to be set up with clean water, food, tents, and shade. This afternoon we drove out to the Club Campastre de Golf, which is a huge concert/event hall with a big dirt parking lot. It’s mainly for church events and is privately owned. Every year they let First Covenant Church take over their grounds for two weeks.

We have two semi-truck trailers permanently on the property. One is called the Man Cave and it holds the screwdrivers and duct tape, the other is The Kitchen. I got the kitchen while Joe and Pastor Dan worked on getting the water purification system up and running, and tried to figure out how to get electricity to everything (5 refrigerators). I dusted, swept, scrubbed and mopped the kitchen. It was hot and grimy. Then I moved to cleaning the bathrooms.

In the past we have worked with a man, Jose, who ran an orphanage for the elderly. We had dinner with him and his wife Daisy tonight. They are such a lovely couple. Their two little girls kept Joe entertained as they each held a hand and led him all over the restaurant. Jose has started a church of his own (he is an ordained pastor). This was a big step of faith for him, and they now have three families attending.

Tomorrow we’ll head out again for base camp to work. Joe will move over to the campground, and I will stay here at the hotel because I hate camping. Several women are arriving tomorrow and he doesn’t feel right about them being at base camp alone at night.

We started with our hotel breakfast and a nice devotional time led by Pastor Dan. After a quick stop at Starbucks we headed over to Base Camp and greeted the next team coming in. Three ladies and two men had crossed the border that morning with no problems.

First thing we tackled was cleaning all of the kitchen bowls, plates, utensils, etc. When the kitchen heated up to an unbearable degree we tackled the tents. We got five up before we headed over to the elementary school on the property to clean the bathrooms and hang curtains. All the boys go in separate rooms from all the girls (one-hundred of them), so we had to make sure there was no peeking.

The floors had just been painted by the well meaning janitor, making the job slightly more difficult. The shiny sky-blue floors were very bright and cheerful though. None of the curtains matched, so any attempt at interior decorating was an abject failure.

Back over to the main area we stopped to admire the construction work on the new bathroom and shower building our church is building for Club Campastre de Golf. This couple, Lucy and Humberto, have been incredibly supportive of us over the years and have always given us priority even when other churches offered more money for the rental of the campsite. This was an opportunity for us to pay back  their kindness.

By-the-way, the camp has a different mascot every year. This year it's Petey the snake. He is constantly moved about so he can enjoy the various views. I put him in the frig and was scolded because he got cold...who knew? 

Dan and I made a taco run for the crew. I love doing this. The drive is crazy…driving in Mexicali is crazy. I couldn’t believe how many cops were out pulling people over for traffic violations. They will be kept very busy in this town that’s for sure. The lanes are poorly marked, if at all. The lights have a weird system of blinking green before a momentary yellow and then red. All the major intersections are round-abouts. This means three lanes (unmarked) merge and break away at the highest possible speeds. The only other place I’ve seen this is in Italy.

I forced Dan to stop working and take me back to the hotel. He has been sicker than a dog this trip, (probably got it from Joe) and he hacking and coughing. Did I mention I hate camping. So I snuggled into my soft bed in my air-conditioned room and slept like a baby.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

There are milestones in life. Marriage to Joe was a major one for me. Becoming a, that was huge. But there are other things we accomplish that stop us in our tracks and makes us think, "Did I really just accomplish that?"

When I got accepted to Physical Therapy school I was stunned, but that was soon over-shadowed by passing the state exams to become a PT.

I still remember that shiver up my spine when I wrote "The End" on my first novel, Counterpart. 105,000 word book! Then I got a one-hundred dollar check for book sales...I cried.

Recently I submitted my second novel, El Tiburon to Vinspire Publishing and they accepted it. Now I'm wise enough to know it will be even bigger when they actually publish it. 

What came as a surprise was how excited I would be when I got my book cover from the designer. I'm floating on air. I've just been given permission to share it with you all. So here it is: