With a final coat of stucco, tarring the roof, and two coats of beautiful bright blue paint, we completed the final stages of our house build for Maria and her family. All of the finishing touches were attended to, making sure the house is sealed and secure. Maria cooked us a final meal sustaining us through the end of our workday. The sun was beating hard and we were covered in stucco and blue paint, but our spirits remained high through the end of our project.
As we awaited the arrival of the priest to do the house blessing a lady drove through selling baked goods. We swarmed her truck and devoured Mexican sweet breads in celebration of the end of our build.
Fr. Joseph, a visiting priest from the Pittsburgh Metropolis, came to do the house blessing. The whole family joined us inside the home as Fr. Joseph led us in the service all in Spanish. Being able to join in prayer with this family in their own language was very profound, and it is a this point, after bringing Christ into their house in this very tangible way, that their house became a home. At the conclusion of the blessing we handed the family their keys along with a bible and two icons. We thanked Maria profoundly for feeding us each day, and she responded in deep gratitude, expressing that it is nothing compared to what we have done for her family which will bless them for the rest of their lives.
As we began our goodbyes to Maria, Elias, Abigail, Rosabelin, Jaime, and Carlitos, there were tears of gratitude on both ends. We certainly were able to offer this family an incredible gift, but in this giving of ourselves, we find ourselves so much richer in return. They are grateful for us, but we even more grateful to have known them for this one week in our lives. They have entered our hearts and we theirs, and we will cherish them and this experience forever. As we looked over the house we built in just four days, we were filled with a sort of deep satisfaction, and as we hugged the family we built it for, we felt true fulfillment in our hearts.
Time. Talent. Treasure. One of our trip leaders and 15 time Project Mexico veteran Christy Gouletas, continuously reminds us that God calls us to offer what we have to those in need, to our Church, and to this world. And she reminds us that what we have comes in three forms: time, talent, and treasure. Some of us are able to carve out time to give, some of us have unique talents to offer, and some of us are blessed with means to allow others to give of their time and talent. This week, 19 high school students, college students, and young adults from SS. Peter & Paul gave of their time and talent (some of us were able to offer more talent than others 🙂 and so many of you from our greater SSPP family offered their treasure to make it possible. This home that was built was a part of a much larger effort, a larger effort than the 19 of us that traveled here this week. The gratitude expressed by Maria and her family is extended to our entire community who made this mission possible. We would not have been able to do our part without this support. It is a beautiful reminder that we all have something we can give, and God is calling each and every one of us to give what we have and what we can. So, thank you to the SSPP community for making a profound impact on the lives of this beautiful family.
After a beautiful Divine Liturgy this morning and a celebratory day at the beach and on the ranch, we prepare to head home tomorrow. None of us are quite ready to leave, even knowing the comforts that await us across the boarder. It is hard to think about leaving the simplicity of our daily routine, bookended by prayer and stillness, and re-entering the hectic schedules of our everyday lives. We are sad to leave the warm embraces and infectious laughter of the Chiquitos, the young boys who live at the orphanage. And our hearts ache a little when we remember we will not likely be seeing Maria and her family again in this life. We are surely looking forward to a clean shower and our cozy beds, and I personally am looking forward to not hearing the roosters crow at 4:30 am, but there is no doubt, we will surely leave a large part of our hearts here in Tijuana.
We are thankful to God for a blessed trip. Keep us in your prayers as we travel back to Chicago.