In past trips to Mexico I’ve noticed that the pace of life is slower. What I didn’t realize until this trip is that everything takes longer and with that much patience and persistence is required. It’s a little like stepping into a time warp and the work just goes slower.
Tools that we would normally have laying around aren’t easy to get. Supplies are different and some stuff is just not available when and where you need it so it’s necessary to improvise.
On Tuesday we ordered 20 sleeping bags, but had to drive back into the US to get them. We got stuck at the border for hours trying to get through. When we arrived we got the bags, filled up our gas tank and went back.
One of the families we were helping needed a temporary shelter and asked us to build a wooden one for them. I had spec’d out a plan, but was told that if we built anything without approval the government might not give them any assistance getting their home rebuilt.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t build anything, but we could buy a 10×20 tent and give it to them. We were told they had them at Costco in Tijuana. It was on the way back from getting the sleeping bags so we went ahead and stopped there to pick one up. Unfortunately they didn’t have any, but we were able to eat hot dogs for lunch before heading back.
On the ride back, Gordon drove while I worked on my talk/sermon for the Wednesday night service. We had attended a Tuesday night service at the El Sazon restaurant and had some prepared remarks in case we were asked to speak. I was able to extend that testimony and use it on Wednesday.
Gordon delivered an awesome message as well. It was well thought out and well delivered challenging us to think about why we follow Jesus. Mine was about giving all of our hearts to God.
We were able to go back to the family and talk with them about the build and let them know we couldn’t find a tent. They did get 4 of the cold weather sleeping bags, a camp stove and a solar light.
The hardest thing about this trip was not being able to meet all the needs we encountered, even some of the basic ones.
What I’m about to say is hard for me to write about, but I cannot help but think about the pain these families are going through now with the fire having destroyed everything. This reminded me of hell. I much prefer to talk about God’s love for us, rather than his judgement which is an eternal fire for those who reject him.
As a boy, the school I went to had chapel services twice a week. One time we had a “Hell Fire and Brimstone” preacher come. He was a floor stomping, pulpit pounding preacher that yelled and screamed that we would all go to hell if we didn’t repent and turn away from our wicked ways. It was tough to listen to. Hell was described as eternal torment and pain.
He scared a lot of kids that day including me, but even then as a boy I never viewed God as someone who wanted that sort of torment for anyone. While I don’t disagree that those who reject him will pay a terrible price, I believe that he doesn’t want our relationship with him to be compelled by fear, but rather the love a father has for his children. Nevertheless, hell is a real place and people will go there.
The pain of those we helped here is nothing comparable to what those who go there will experience. Perhaps we cannot save these families from the pain of this fire, we can offer comfort and love to help them through it. Perhaps they will see enough of Jesus in us to know how much he loves them and that he doesn’t want them to suffer through hell either.
I hope I will never forget the parting prayer we had with Antonio’s mother as she wept on our shoulders and thanked us for the support we had given them. A part of my heart is still breaking for that family even as we sit here now in the comfort of a hotel room back in the USA.
On our last day in Tecate, we filmed some of the village and I hope to post it here when I get home and can properly edit it on a computer instead of my phone. Photos and videos just don’t convey what it’s like to stand side by side with a person in their most troubling times. You have to choose to be there and love and the best way to do that is face to face.
On Thursday morning, we went back to tell Antonio about the tent arriving next week and met a general contractor living and working in San Diego. He had friends in Tecate and came back with a set of plans for a temporary shelter made of wood that could be torn down and materials reused in a brick structure. We found out today, Friday, that the Mexican government approved the structures for temporary housing and opened the door for outside help to come in and build these. We are waiting for an estimate on materials to see if we can get Antonio and his family of four into a 15’ x 15” structure (smaller than many of the storage sheds we have in the USA). As of this evening it’s looking like about $1100 USD is all they need.
They will live out the winter with temperatures down into the 20s Fahrenheit and always a possibility of strong winds.
These are hardworking families, they just don’t have a lot of things and what little they did have was taken away in a moment.
My hope is that if you’ve seen this and want to help that you will consider taking on some of this burden and help us put Antonio, his wife, mother and son, or another family in a temporary shelter. Let me know if you want to help.
There was a group from some churches from Washington State and Oregon that brought a group down right after and we met William and his Mexican friend/guide, Arturo at the church.
I’m not sure it was the same group that helped the Guatemalan family build or not. Kevin and his pregnant wife and mother just had a house built by a church group and they are working rapidly to get the home ready before their first baby arrives. We were able to help him with some drywall to finish the inside.
Our friends in Tecate will continue to go and help as they are able and for that we are deeply grateful.