January 15-18, 2016Twelve representatives of Custer Road United Methodist Church accompanied Larry and Dr. Nancy Cox on a mission trip to Mexico. We stayed at Proyecto Abrigo, the mission project founded by Rev. Jose Luis Portillo. We shared dorm and dining space with a group from Kessler Park United Methodist Church who built two houses.
We constructed a concrete block home for a young couple expecting their first child in May. The father works in the factory making approximately $40 per week and the young mother appears to work at home. They both have family who live in the community. The Kessler Park group built an addition to the home of ‘our mother’s’ family. It is hard physical labor, but we completed the structure, roof and floor. When the concrete header and the floor are dry, the maestros will close the gaps between the walls and roof and will install windows and doors. Then the family can move in. This young couple is currently living in a wood and tarpaper structure that they will most likely keep so that they have two rooms for a home. The young father worked very hard along side us throughout both days. The look of pride on their faces as we dedicated the home was priceless.
Dr. Nancy visited members in the community experiencing health problems. Eleven month old Kevin was experiencing such distress breathing that Dr. Nancy and Larry drove him and his mother to the hospital. With prescribed breathing treatments, he was breathing much easier by our third day there. Dr. Nancy met Kevin and his family right after his birth last year. Kevin has experienced breathing problems since birth and this is exasperated by the windy dusty conditions of the desert. Dr. Nancy tries to monitor him and help through texting and Facebook. Kevin has an older brother, 5 year old Eber, who accompanied us to the playground to play soccer and to swing. Eber participates in a reading program run by Marion Surles, a Juntos Servimos volunteer and teacher. Eber and Kevin’s dad works in the factory and their mom is busy raising them and maintaining a very nice home despite the conditions.
Dr. Nancy visited 61 year old Martina who has poorly controlled diabetes and has had parts of both feet amputated over a year ago. The wounds have not yet healed and there is infection. Dr. Nancy changed the dressings daily, provided medications and supplies and instructed the family on care of the feet. We saw improvement in this woman’s feet while we were there.
We purchased and provided dispensas for 48 families while there. Liz, Anne and Jennifer accompanied Larry and Dr. Nancy to Soriana’s where we filled three grocery carts with milk, beans, pasta, oil, canned vegetables, oranges and eggs. Back at the dorm, members from Kessler Park assisted us in sorting the food into individual bags, which we distributed throughout the community to families in need. We also distributed hats and gloves collected by Children’s Ministry at CRUMC. These were well needed as the nighttime temperatures average 30 degrees in January. A highlight was seeing the excitement on the children’s faces when we handed them a coloring book, crayons and stickers assembled by the youngest Mission Possible Kids at CRUMC.
Several school age children gathered at the playground and painted medals for the Esperanza race. I took some leftover medals completed for the 2014 race as samples and each child wore a medal home as a thank you from us for painting the new medals.
One member of our team is skilled at plumbing so he was able to help Jose Luis and Proyecto Abrigo with plumbing needs at the dorm and dining hall. Proyecto Abrigo sat empty and quiet for at least 4 years during the height of the drug violence. Upon reopening the dorm facilities, Jose Luis found numerous plumbing problems. Fixing these problems will allow Proyecto Abrigo to host more volunteers at one time.
We attended church, which was a spiritual and moving experience even with the language barrier.
The relationships that are forming and evolving with each trip to Tierra Nueva are truly a blessing. We are getting to know several families and are seeing the positive, long term impact that we can have.