Friday, February 5, 2016

Colima: La Tienda de Justina

Justina is an amazingly strong 83-year-old widow who lives with her handicap son. She ekes out a living by selling whatever used goods she finds. As we returned to Colima for the third year, our family was put on this project to build a small store area attached to the front of her home.

Before putting a concrete floor in, we needed to clear up the area and level it - not our most favourite chore as the ground is usually rock hard. We took turns with the pick ax and got sweaty mighty fast under the hot sun!

We all pitched in to shuffle buckets upon buckets of sand and rocks to throw in the mixer to make the concrete batter. That mixer was loud and it needed to be on the whole time to keep the concrete from drying out. By the end of the day, we were all a little deaf.

Serena and Fatima decorated the freshly poured concrete floor with a fish symbol, a little tradition we do with every project where there's fresh concrete!

Walls came after the floor. We spent many hours laying bricks while getting a nice farmer's tan. Serena became quite skilled at breaking bricks into small pieces. She came home with all her fingers intact.

We did our best to build those walls straight. Even if they were a touch crooked (and they most certainly were), thankfully there're those concrete columns and beams we poured to glue it all together. After many trips climbing up and down that rickety and hazardous scaffolding, Serena & I felt quite ready to audition for Cirque.

Daddy arrived the second week of our project and helped finish it off.

Often times we'd add extra "fixings" if time and materials allow it. We decided to build a nice little ramp (yes, more concrete!) for Justina so she doesn't have to tread all the mud into her store and home, especially during their rainy season.

Almost there - the walls were parged and a simple roof went up.

A fresh coat (actually 3) of paint makes a world of difference. It was a very bright and sunny day when we painted, the white was blinding!

TA-DA, store front built and ready for business!

We fell in love with this strong sweet old lady who in turn adored Serena. Before we left at the end of our 2-week stint, Justina held onto Serena and told me to find "otra niƱa" (another girl) to take home because she's keeping her there! Hopefully we'll be back next year so we can see her again. Serena is eager to go back too, not only to see Justina, but also her kittens and puppies - she'll tell you all about that in the next post!


  1. Great Job. Well done. We are very proud of you all.
    Love Nanny & Papa

  2. Keith-- you look like you've got the hang of Concrete Mixing now!!
    Way to go Ippel family, looks like another fantastic experience!

  3. Lovely to see you still being called to this mission field! :D Go Serena!