Monday, January 26, 2015

Colima: La Playa

From the journal of beachcomber Serena:

In Mexico I had a few interesting encounters on the beaches of this wonderful country. I went to 4 different beaches in and around Manzanillo and Barra de Navidad.

The first beach we went to was in Manzanillo. Daddy & I swam around trying to catch fish that were swimming about in big schools. While I was swimming I noticed something bright blue with purple curly things sticking out of it. I gave no attention to it since it was only the size of a button, but soon found out that it was a tiny jellyfish that kept stinging mommy and me!

The second beach I went to was definitely the most beautiful. The sand was black and gold, and on that beach daddy found the most beautiful shell in my collection.

In the sea I found an adorable puffer fish I named Puffy that looked like it was dying! I got my daddy to throw it really far into the ocean. I just hope he is alright!

The third beach I went to was not super fun because the waves were soooooo strong you had to put all energy into staying upright!

The last beach was the most interesting. The beach was practically made of shells!

So I went into the water, wading around, looking for shells. As I was walking along, I suddenly stepped on something very, very sharp! I thought maybe it was a crab but as I looked at the 4 blood-oozing spots on my heel, my dad identified the thing as one of four dinner plate sized black & white sea urchins!

I never got to see them though because I was too scared to approach them. I also saw a really blue and white-spotted puffer fish!

Overall I think this year's trip to Colima (and other places in Mexico) was an eye-opening experience of God's power and love for my family and me!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Colima: Roberto

Everyone who's worked with Roberto loves this hardworking man. We were so glad to see him again especially that he wore our team shirt from last year the same day we did!

Roberto spent most of his time this year at this project site where part of the team is building a "community meeting place" as a satellite of Grupo Amor. It grew out of a large outreach to the children in the community and the Comedor program where the elderly get served a hot meal.

The best food in Colima - Roberto's Taco Stand!!!

Roberto works as a construction contractor by day and runs a taco stand in front of his home by night, 6 nights a week. His work ethics puts us all to shame!

His tacos costs 5 pesos (C$0.40) each. We all stuffed our face and ate too many of them, but Keith held the yet unbroken record in the team - a grand total of 14 tacos!

Roberto's wife Yesenia is as hardworking as her husband, ready to help out at every job and always carrying a Spanish-English dictionary ready for translation!

Our family decided to raise some funds for his decrepit truck before we left home for Colima. We found out that many on the team had the same idea. We're now in the process of pulling our donations together and hopefully find a "new" used truck to replace his.

We shared our plan with Roberto and Yesenia the evening we ate at their taco stand. They were overcome with thankfulness and many emotional hugs and blessings were exchanged.

We told Roberto that many of our friends in Canada have contributed to the donations for his truck. He and his family are very grateful for your generosity!

¡Muchas gracias y Dios los bendiga!

Colima: Regalos

One of the highlights for all of us was visiting the families we've met in the past. Many people on the team have been helping out in Colima in previous years. Lisa & Louise bought many practical goodies to make gift bags for these special visits.

We met this family of 8 last year at their Triangle House. Serena spent a day playing with the kids around their very poor neighbourhood, and that was the night she got sick!

She was eager to see Cristina and Esmeralda again but sadly they weren't home when we arrived. The good news was - the girls were in school! As far as we know, none of the daughters were going to school before.

Dayana is the baby of the family and such a cutie pie! Serena brought a whole suitcase of her stuffed animals to give to the kids.

We told Dayana we had una sopresa for her. When we unzipped the suitcase, she literally squealed and yanked the biggest one out. Her face lit right up and we were all standing there in awe of the pure joy and delight on this little girl's face.

Dani & Ceci's Corner House was the very first project Serena & I worked on last year. It was great to see that the family is doing well, and Ceci is pregnant with her third child!

We always carried a stash of toys in our bags. Serena played Santa to all the kids she met wherever we went. Her collection of animals brought many happy smiles!

Serena also brought a whole bunch of the Rainbow Loom bracelets she's made. She was handing them out to kids and they were a huge hit. We even had some adults asking for one!

This little fellow at Casa Cuna, the orphanage where we were staying, is very serious and apparently doesn't smile much according to the staff. We whipped out hand puppet Scaredy Squirrel and played peekaboo with him - instant giggles! Glad we found a good home for Scaredy!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Colima: Casa de Carolina

Carolina's house is just a block from Carmen's. The crew who arrived a week earlier than we did already started on this project. Our family joined in and finished the floor in a speedy day and a half.

More mud mixing, more tile cutting, more mudding, lots of grouting, extra bruises on our knees and knuckles...

Carolina earns an income by giving massages in her home. We hope to give her massage room a facelift to improve her business. She supports her husband who's an alcoholic with a heart condition and mobility issues.

Serena was over zealous with this tile mudding business and caked herself in a layer of concrete everyday.

At Carolina's house, instead of a kitty, Serena found a neglected puppy dying for attention. They became fast friends after she shared her lunch and walked the dog every time she went to Kiosko for a "Bubu Lubu".

The Colima team who's still there will be putting up a wall to separate the bathroom. It's not often that we see an actual toilet (no seat though!) and sink in a home. We can't wait to see what the finished room will look like!

Colima: Comida Deliciosa

From the journal of food critic Serena:

Mexican food was never my favourite but I must say that my appreciation for it has grown since my trip to Colima this year.

My first night in Manzanillo I ate these really tasty chicken sopitos, some burritos and some tacos with lots of sour cream and limes!

At a Mexican restaurant in Colima, my parents and I got a big plate of really tasty guacamole and crunchy tortilla wedges. We also got this really good cactus salad with tomatoes and onions drizzled with Colima's famous lime!

I got to eat lots of good Mexican food at Casa Cuna too. Lisa & Steve made this really awesome taco soup. I also got to eat Canadian food like Steve's lasagna and Lisa's grilled veggie pasta.

In Manzanillo and Barra de Navidad, I got to eat this tasty cylinder ice-cream at Thrifty helados. They had many flavours. I liked the mint chocolate, very refreshing for hot Mexican weather!

Last year I didn't get to eat these special Mexican donuts called churros because I was sick for 3 days. They can be filled with chocolate, caramel, or strawberry cream. So I finally got to try them this year! So very tasty and I especially like the one with strawberry filling.

Bubu Lubu!!!

Bubu Lubu is marshmallow with a layer of jam on top all coated in chocolate. I discovered them while wandering in a Kiosko. I ate so many I lost track!

Overall my food experience in Mexico was really great! (Although I did not get any ceviche this time.)

Colima: Casa de Carmen

¡Hola nuestros amigos!

We had a very fruitful and fun trip in Colima, Mexico as we returned there for our second year of working with the local church Grupo Amor through Hope for the Nations.

Our first project:

Carmen is a diabetic widow living alone in a home with uneven floors. She's a faithful helper at the Comedor, the equivalent of a soup kitchen which is an outreach program of Grupo Amor.

We wanted to bless her with a tiled floor to minimize her chance of tripping especially in the kitchen area. A fall for a diabetic could be hazardous.

The 3 of us had a crash course on tiling and spent the next few days on our knees.

Daddy carefully mixed the mud into a peanut butter like mixture. He became quite proficient at getting the right consistency after mixing many, many, many batches of that.

I lost count of how many tiles I've cut with this little hand tool. Uneven floors and crooked walls make for many, many, many custom cut tiles!

Serena had fun mudding the tiles before we glued them in their place. She was also responsible for cleaning up after our messes.

Being a studious apprentice to our teammate and tough master Al, Serena was also our quality control, using the level to check our work.

Daddy & Al had a tough job tiling the little kitchen area - a most uneven hard packed dirt floor.

Thankfully Al is our resident tiling expert and made sure everything was done right and well.

The 3 of us and his lovely wife Cheryl had many laughs teasing him about his perfectionism. And I think Al has nightmares about our less than perfect work!

We made many trips to Kiosko (Mexican 7-Eleven) for refreshments during our work days.

Serena has a knack for finding cats wherever she goes. This little kitten was her favourite companion during many of our breaks.

We were able to finish the tiling in good time. Since we had some leftover paint from another project, we decided to paint Carmen's house and make it look more cheery.

Primer first, then purple paint! It was quite a challenge to paint brick walls full of bumps and cracks.

Carmen was so thrilled to see the progress of our work each day - "¡Muy bonito! ¡Muy bonito!"  We prayed a blessing over her and her newly tiled & painted home before we left. She was moved to tears and gave us all big hugs!