People, a place, and a mission so amazing, we roll twice a year :)
We had such an awesome time this last week we spend in Ensenada. It started out a little shaky….I was driving down with the Sullivans, and its pouring rain on a Friday night, somewhere on the I5, and I say to Neil, “Why are there so many lights up on the dash?” and he says its fine…fifteen minutes later we’re on the side of the highway on an overpass, the car won’t budge, and its dark and we’re praying not to get hit by semis making wide turns! But mostly we were thankful that if the car had to go out on us, it happened on this side of the border, and not in Mexico where there is no such thing as a shoulder on a highway, there is only a cliff or a wall. And more than that, a couple of white peeps hanging out with a nice looking suburban filled with nice things? A bit of a “sitting duck” if you will.
So we finally got a tow truck, but there was only room for two in the cab. Neil and Tracey rode in their suburban on the back of the truck, and Drew and I got into the cab with a random stranger…who had a Bible right on his dash, and ended up being Frank from LA, my new BFF!! We started talking about missions and ministry, and I basically heard his entire life story, he’s partially deaf in his right ear, so we had to yell most of the trip to the car place, but it was awesome. Then when we got there, he took us to a Christian mechanic and recommended a hotel run by a Christian lady in town. Tiiiiight!!
We had rented out a super sweet beach house out by La Bufadora, which could hold all of us at one time, and had a sick view of the ocean. Most of the houses nearby had been abandoned or set on fire by frustrated American and Mexican investors. Sometimes Sami thought she saw a small child staring out at us from them…there was also an old man living in a trailer that I want to submit for an episode of “Hoarders: International,” if such a thing exists. That guy had milk cartons from like the 70s all around his lawn chair, smiling and waving at everyone who passed by. So cute. So Mexico.
Our big “mission” for Navidad is to hand out presents to children from the church that we work with over the summer. The gifts, lovingly donated by the Pengelleys and Nana, had school supplies and candies and all kinds of goodies. Each child got a personalized box, and they were SO excited. We had more toys and things for younger ones, a complete baby package with adorable onesies and booties and things that end in “-ies” for babies at the church, and gifts for the older kids as well. Erika would announce each child by name and then we would clap and cheer like they’d won a prize. It was fantastic.
We went to the Christmas church service, which was sweet!! They had kids plays, a really thought-provoking drama, some girls dancing with ribbons to the most infectious “Es Navidad” song EVER, and of course, as Christians love to do, they gave open flames to large groups of children on stage. (Candles to ninos who swayed to a really long song) It was awesome. Mexicans worship like nothing I’ve seen in the States….they are completely intimately pouring it out for Dios. It makes your average gringo tear up.
After the service, they served the entire church five different kinds of posada, which is a Christmas traditional soup. Definitely the one from Michoacan was the mejor! And we got to hang out with our peeps and laugh and talk. Awesome times.
One of the special things about the Christmas trip is getting to spend more one-on-one times with people we are close to. We took a girl to Walmart and let her go crazy picking out shoes and groceries and things for her family, and we took a bunch of our friends to taco stands and played on the beach, had an awesome BBQ with like a million peeps we love and sang songs and played Scrabble en espanol. I love that time when you can really talk with people, and pray for people, and not be so programmed and on the go.
One of the really special things we did was visit Rancho Sordo Mudo, a ministry started 40 years ago to provide free schooling and housing for the deaf children of Mexico. There is a lot of misconception about deaf people, and barely any kinds of service provided by the government, unlike here in the States. These kids are often kicked out on the streets, or live in their house without any kind of language, not even knowing they have a name or that these people are their family. The school takes in these kids, who can have a lot of aggression issues, have been outcasts, know nothing but images about the world around them, have never been able to communicate anything in their lives, might be often thought of as dumb, hopeless…and they teach them to speak Mexican Sign Language, they teach them to read and to write, and they can finally have a way to communicate with their parents, the world around them. They teach them to ride a bus, to take care of themselves, to go to the grocery store. They teach them a trade like sewing or construction so that they may become self-sufficient. And they teach them about Jesus. They love on them like Jesus.
Its a bit of a culture shock to come back to America, wake up on Christmas Eve, and there are presents and lights and too much food and drink, and think of my friends back in Mexico living in cardboard houses, or in abusive homes, or without a chance at education, or with no tree, no presents. It made me quite Grinch-y. But at the same time, I know that no amount of money or American consumerism or materialism in the form of presents I could buy or school I could support or any kind of help I could send all those kids would really change their reality, or measure up to the time we get to spend with them, the love we get to share, and knowing we’re all together because we share a Savior, the true meaning of Christmas. Even though He was probably born in April or May. (ah! pipe down, Grinch!)
We had an awesome week. Every day was a blessing, and a new taco stand, and new memories with old friends, and the sighting of the elusive nocturnal Mexican zebra, and fellowship with some of the people I love most in the whole world. PTL.
Here is a link to the documentary about Rancho Sordo Mudo: