Friday, March 27, 2015

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.

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