It’s just over one week later and we are still thinking about and processing this year’s Thanksgiving celebration. I don’t imagine the memories will leave our minds any time soon. Our plans for Thanksgiving started almost six months ago when we were invited to join John’s sister, Quinn, and her family on a trip to Mexico. This wasn’t your typical family vacation week–Quinn’s proposal was to join together as a family to labor with a Mexican family in the Juarez area to build a home. We have watched Quinn, her husband, Dusty, and their five kids be involved with this type of work for the past 3+ years and seen their passion grow and their involvement become deeply rooted. We were interested in seeing and experiencing this part of their lives first hand so it didn’t take too much to convince us.
As it turns out it was a fantastic way to spend our Thanksgiving holiday–with family, actively working together toward a goal, in partnership with new friends from this Juarez neighborhood at km 30, sharing the resources with which we are totally blessed, and grateful for the opportunities we have because of where we were born. Over the short 2 1/2 days there, we were continuously humbled by the people we met, the stories we heard, the hospitality extended, the disparity that exists between people who live miles apart (El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico were once one city), and the passion and compassion of the American folks who are “regulars” in the work being done in this community. It was a Thanksgiving like none we have shared in before, but are hopeful to have more like it in the future!
It would take multiple blog posts to adequately share the fullness of our experiences there.For the day by day breakdown of our time in Mexico, we’ll defer to Sherry for her great, detailed account of our days there. As an added bonus, we extended our holiday week and spent the first few days in Arizona enjoying time with our friends, the Rickeys, and family, Dusty, Quinn, and the kids.
Here are some highlights from our eight days of Thanksgiving:
- An early Thanksgiving day with the Rickey family (Saturday before the real day). Turkey and trimmings, football, Beatles Rock Band (Nintendo Wii game), and good company.
- Phoenix Zoo with the Rickey’s followed by a delicious, authentic Mexican meal. Yum!
- Spending time with the Andersons in their new home in Gilbert.
- Getting to see nieces and nephews in action–school concert, softball practice, basketball game–so fun!
- In and Out: double double (me), animal style (John), fries, and strawberry shake (hey, I’m eatin’ for two! ;-))
- Meeting up with family in El Paso and sensing the excitement and energy of the small, but mighty team.
- The fantastic organization and preparedness of Missions Ministries (the organization with whom we were there) and the local folks they have on staff. Without them we wouldn’t have raised the walls and roof of the house in less than two hours from the time we began working Thursday morning. We also wouldn’t have eaten very well without them–the cooks were amazing, providing us with delicious meals three times a day. We were even served a traditional Thanksgiving meal!
- Hearing the stories of transformed lives. Five of the pastors of this community (pop. around 15,000) are former street kids from Ciudad Juarez who ended up in gangs. They were murderers and drug addicts, in and out of jail, and some how all ended up in this community. They each had their own unique story about how they got out off the path they were heading down. Truly renewed and transformed lives. Thanks be to God!
- Seeing a finished home (in under 10 hours of our manpower) and handing the keys to the proud young couple and their sweet little girl.
- Pastor Leo and his dedication and love for a native Mexican Indian population, a 12 hour drive from Juarez.
- The confidence and safety we felt despite being outside of one of the most dangerous cities in the world.
- Hanging out with the local kids–playing soccer, making crafts, trying to have simple conversations in Spanish…
- Doing this all with people we love and trust made it all a bit sweeter. Deepening relationships, getting to know members of the extended family with whom we have had little connection, and being with nieces and nephews we adore.
Who’s in for next year?