We are at the halfway mark of our trip and we are over halfway done building the home for Maria and her family. With just one more day of work and two days left on the ranch, we gathered tonight to reflect on our experience so far. As I challenged the college students to identify both the struggles and joys they have experienced so far, along with the hopes they have for the rest of the trip, I was moved by the depth of responses shared.
This experience is reaching each of us in a profound way. We are struck by the disparity between our life at home and the standard of living witnessed here in Tijuana. Our muscles are aching and we are pushing ourselves to our physical limits but are determined to offer what we have to a family with so much less than we are blessed to enjoy every day. We are filled with peace as we are distanced from technology and the constant distractions of our everyday life. We are experiencing pure joy with each outburst of laughter and song belted at the top of our lungs as our connection with one another deepens. We are struggling to understand how to take this experience back with us as we go home. We are struggling to make sense of the severe need that exists in this world and what our responsibility is in regards to that need. We hope to maintain the peace and stillness we feel here, at home. We hope to carry this desire to serve our neighbor home with us in actionable ways. We hope that Maria and her family are blessed with shelter and food and love for the years to come. We are filled with a profound sense of gratitude.
Since our last update, we have assembled and raised the walls of the home and the frame of the roof. We covered the home in chicken wire, we made and spread the first layer of stucco, and we boarded the roof. What started as a patch of land and then a simple slab of concrete is starting to look like a real home. Maria and her family continue to cook us lunch each day, an unbelievable outpouring of love. Her youngest children, Rosabelin, Jaime, and Carlitos run around the worksite, playing with us, allowing us into their lives, and watching in awe as their new home is built. Our group has come together and formed a true team as we all work together to make this reality possible. A house can not be built alone, it is amazing to see our group join forces, depend on one another, relieve one another in moments of exhaustion, and offer all that we have in service to our neighbor.
And in the evenings, we pray, we eat, we watch a most magnificent sunset, and we play soccer with the boys who live at the orphanage. In the evenings we continue to be reminded of our blessings as we interact with beautiful boys who came from the most traumatic of pasts but have found there way into the arms of such a loving community and a true family. There is hope.
This continues to be a beautiful experience for each and every one of us. We are grateful. Profoundly grateful. And now, we are off to make this house a home!