We now have access to a computer with internet. I had initially thought I could use my iPhone as a wireless hotspot, but we only have a simple edge connection down here! That means no 3/4G, no data transfer! Texts and calls only. However, Amy has been gracious enough to let us use a laptop that is hooked up to their limited wifi. I'm almost certain we'll be able to regularly use this computer to post daily updates.
Since we were off the grid until now, I have three blog posts that will be included in this post. The kids started blogging on the iPad when we left. After this, they should be in real time.
Thursday, July 24th
10:20pm (22:20 for my military time homies... :D)
Hola from Camichenes! Today was one of the longest days of my life-21 hours packed into what felt like twelve, and it only gets better from here (minus the fire ants).
My day started with waking up around 2:30 in the morning, dressing and grabbing a quick breakfast before heading out with my sister, mom, and designated driver (Dad). We made it to the airport around 3:45, made it through security, and breakfasted and played math games while waiting for our flight. We boarded our first plane from Philadelphia to Dallas around 6:15, sent off by a sacrificial, loving audience of our families. The flight was predominantly uneventful, but I fully enjoyed the ride (as always), enjoying Hans Zimmerman and conversation with my mom and neighboring traveler while taking pictures of the view.
We landed safely, but spent around a half an hour waiting to pull into the gates before rushing to our connecting flight to Guadelajara. After taking off, I dozed for a while before walking to a breathtaking panorama of towering mountains as we flew over Mexico.
After landing, we were greeted at the entrance by Juan, a regular worker at Ranchito con Esperanza, and Arlene Acosta, Chuy and Amy's daughter. We threw our bags (minus Joe's guitar, which spent a lonely 24 hours in Dallas) into two vans and headed out for the 90 minute drive to Camichines. It was a really unique drive-we were pulled over by police within a minute of leaving the airport parking lot (several Americans in a big van piled with suitcases isn't an everyday sight, I guess), I rode in a foldout seat with no seatbelt and hit every bump on the road, and Laura fell asleep with the widow open and woke to being rained on near the end of the drive. The view was beautiful, and it was quite cool to see the street vendors... And the dogs. Lots and LOTS of dogs.
We finally arrived at the orphanage, unloaded and went over the rules and toured the building before relaxing somewhat. Stephen, Issac, Laura, Jamilyn, Ben, and I spent an hour kicking a futball (aka soccer ball) around the yard.
Dinner was a delicious meal of tuna and vegetables ("tuna con agua", as one of the kids labeled it), followed with a short excursion to the public futball pitch. We played one or two rounds (all under sixty seconds) of futball with the Mexicans there; while we failed epically, we had a BLAST.
We headed back and debriefed with devotions and thoughts on the day before crawling, exhausted, into bed (or the shower), keeping our eyes peeled for earwigs, spiders, and scorpions (Don't worry, we only found the first two). Chalk it up to an amazing, exhausting travel day... And it's only the first day! :-D
We are loving our time here. We hope you are all well, and we greatly appreciate your continued prayers for our team for the next several days.
Adios, Gabrielle "Gabe" Sallard
Friday, July 25th, 2014
Today was a really productive day! We mostly did construction. I think we all got a good nights sleep after the exhausting day regardless of all the dogs barking and chickens crowing in the middle of the night. Anita, Sarah, and Jamilyn went to the kitchen at 7:30 to help with breakfast prep. After the team and the kids at the orphanage had finished eating, Isaac, Christiana, and I helped with the breakfast cleanup. We swept the floors, wiped down the table, and did a looooootttt of dishes (There is always an endless supply...) Then we joined the others with construction work. We sifted some rocks and dirt to spread on the playground and also helped make cement to make a clinic in the corner of the courtyard. That part was especially fun! I had to hold the bucket as another person lowered the cement machine so it would fill the bucket. I got splattered with cement but it actually felt really good!
While we were doing this Brianna and Jamilyn were teaching the kids a Bible lesson. We also sanded down one of the kids' play tables and two benches before painting them. A lot of the girls also chopped tomatoes for dinner and de-leafed cilantro. Ben Wilson also taught a drawing class to the kids in the afternoon. Later, all of the team members who could speak Spanish were paired with a child to listen to them read in Spanish and English. During this time, I was able to play with a young boy, the youngest child in the orphanage (2 years old). He was so adorable. We were playing with these giant Legos and we made the orphanage, a few cars, and a church. We would drive the cars to the church and then pray....Over and over again!
After weeding the garden and creating more cement (there were other workers laying it down) we had a little bit of free time before dinner. Isaac, Ben, Jose (The neighbor across the street that is our age) and I all played foosball. Then we cleaned up all of the supplies and gloves in the courtyard. After that, most of us played soccer in the street outside the orphanage with Jose and another kid. We had a really fun time and everyone really enjoyed it, whether they were watching or playing.
Dinner was delicious! We had tacos as well as Coca Cola. I'm not sure why, but the Coke here is INCREDIBLE!!!!! Joe was also very happy to have his guitar back after Chuy went to pick it up on his way to run some errands. After dinner, our team met together. We sang some hymns and learned a song in Spanish to teach the kids. Mai-Khanh also shared a devotional and we talked about the day. As I am writing this our team and the interns are watching Inception on a movie projector! We're all having an amazing time. Chuy and Amy, the interns, and all of the people in the village are all so nice and welcoming. Hope everyone is having fun in the US! We're all having an amazing time but we miss you all!!!
Saturday July 26th, 2014
After a full first day of work, fellowship, and--especially for my fair-skinned sibling and I--warding off the intense Mexican sun, I was relieved to learn that I had been assigned to clean up duty indoors for most of this morning. It was a blessing to spend a little time under a roof, but also daunting-- I felt like I was intruding on our host family's lives and personal space as I was bumbling around the kitchen with Gabrielle and Anita.
We attacked the pile of dishes left over from breakfast, trying to find Tupperware containers with matching lids for the left overs as the family launched into their day around us. One of the older girls kindly stepped in and helped us find the cupboards for dishes, talking as we worked. She expressed her excitement for the upcoming VBS program, saying that she and her siblings always enjoyed when teams came for that purpose. We learned she likes to read Nancy Drew books in her spare time, and that she has started to make new friends in her youth group this past year. It was good to learn more about someone we'd only ever seen from a distance, to put a name to a face and have a real conversation instead of rushing from job to job.
We had to wash dishes after lunch too, but it was much more comfortable to walk into the kitchen of someone we felt like we were getting to know and serve them in such a practical--if a little soapy-- way. We sang a variety of songs with one of the interns while we worked, getting to know her a little better, too. We still had to ask where things were, and still felt a little out of place, but we also felt overwhelmingly welcomed into the home, and saw the family's gratitude for the work we were able to do.
Tonight our host family took us out for dinner, and we had a chance to sit and talk and laugh after a long day. It was just another way that they allowed us not only into their home, but into their lives. Yesterday was awkward and uncomfortable at times as we were thrust into a routine without knowing how to effectively help and love our host family when we barely know them. Today, however, as I and most of my team made new friends and learned new things about the people we were here to served, every job we did was no longer just for "this family", but for the specific faces and personalities which make up the whole.