TUESDAY WAS THE DAY OF FINISHING TOUCHES ON THE TRADE SCHOOL AND SEVERAL MEMBERS OF THE TEAM JOINED ME IN STARTING THE BUILDING OF A HOUSE FOR A NEEDY FAMILY. I REALLY NEEDED THE HELP AND TOOK ADVANTAGE OF THE EXTRA HELP AVAILABLE BEFORE THEY LEAVE ON WED. WE MANAGED TO GET FOUR WALLS BUILT IN A FEW HOURS BEFORE RETURNING TO THE SCHOOL FOR THE DEDICATION. WHEN WE GATHERED TO DEDICATE THE NEW TRADE SCHOOL, A FEW PASTORS CAME AND SEVERAL PEOPLE FROM THE COLONIA WERE ALSO THERE. THE TIME WAS FILLED WITH A SENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT AND ANTICIPATION OF HOW THIS NEW FACILITY WILL BE USED TO CHANGE LIVES. A LOT OF HARD WORK WENT INTO THIS PROJECT AND THE REALITY OF IT'S FUTURE IS CLEAR. WE ALL GATHERED IN A CIRCLE AND PRAYED FOR THOSE WHO WOULD ATTEND THE SCHOOL AS WELL AS THOSE THAT WOULD TEACH. THE IIT TEAM HAS GIVEN A COMMUNITY A GREAT GIFT AND THEY SHOULD ALL BE AS PROUD OF THEMSELVES AS WE ARE OF THEM. ON WED WE RETURNED TO THE COLONIA FOR A FINAL TIME OF JUST PLAYING WITH THE KIDS AND THANKING THOSE THAT HELPED ALL WEEK. UPON MY ARRIVAL AT OUR MINISTRY CENTER, THERE WAS A GROUP OF YOUTHS WITH A FRIEND FROM REYNOSA THAT ARE GOING TO ATTEND TECHNICAL SCHOOL IN REYNOSA NEXT FALL. WHAT AWESOME TIMING, THAT A GROUP OF TECH STUDENTS WOULD COME WHILE I HAVE A TEAM OF TECH STUDENTS HERE BUILDING A TECH SCHOOL. DIVINE APPOINTMENTS? I TOOK THEM ALL DOWN TO MEET THE STUDENTS FROM CHICAGO AND WE HAD ANOTHER DEDICATION WITH THEM BEFORE WE ALL TRACED OUR HAND PRINT ON THE WALLS IN THE SCHOOL. I ALSO PUT A PRINT ON THE WALL FOR CATARINO, THE MAN THAT DIED ON MONDAY THAT HELPED US WITH THE FLOOR AND SOME PAINTING. IT WAS SAD WHEN WE RETURNED TO THE U.S. AND KNEW OUR TIME WITH THE KIDS WAS OVER. PAULA MADE THEM ONE FINAL GREAT MEAL AND WE ALL HUGGED AND CRIED A FEW TEARS BEFORE THEY HEADED DOWN THE ROAD. ADIOS AMIGOS, WE'LL SEE YOU SOON. OUR PRAYER FOR THEM IS THAT THEY WOULD BE FOREVER CHANGED BY THE EXPERIENCE OF THE LAST 7 DAYS AND THAT THEY TOO WOULD REMEMBER THE POOR AND NEEDY IN THE WORLD AS THEY PURSUE A LIFE ON THIS PLANET WITH A REGARD FOR THOSE LESS FORTUNATE, AND BASED ON THE QUALITY OF THEIR CHARACTER, I'M SURE THEY WILL. THURSDAY, SEVERAL CARS, TRUCKS AND VANS DROVE THROUGH THE COLONIA, HEADED TO THE GRAVE SITE WHERE CATARTINOS FLESH WILL RESIDE UNTIL THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD, WHERE HE WILL BE RAISED INCORRUPTIBLE. MEXICAN FUNERALS ARE A LITTLE DIFFERENT, IN THAT WE ALL STAY AND FILL THE GRAVE WITH THE DIRT AND PLACE FLOWERS ON IT AND THE I HAD A CHANCE TO SPEAK AND GAVE AN INVITATION TO CHRIST AND THEN WE ALL TOOK TURNS TELLING STORIES OF HOW CATA TOUCHED OUR LIVES.
As the week comes to an end, we must also say goodbye to a friend in the colonia today, Catarino. I've written about Cata many times before. He was a man with a heart to help people and a real prayer warrior. He had a problem with alcohol and was often intoxicated. Cata passed away two days ago and today we will have a wake in the colonia. I pulled my best suit from the deep recesses of my closet and figured I would lay Cata to rest in a finely tailored suit that I seldom wear, it is the least I could do. As children walk the colonia searching for donations to pay for the funeral, you can't help but feel overwhelmed by the poverty. I say all that, not to take away from the awesome week of ministry and relationship building done by the team. You have to take a few minuets and read their blog. WWW.blog.worldserveproject.org and let them tell their story in their own words. It really is about relationships, not building something!!!
As the team from IIT endured a long drive from Chicago, ending with a breakdown 2 hours from our house, they rested and jumped into service for the community, building the trade school in Mexico. All hands were needed to stand up the 32 foot wall on one side, while other walls were built and stood up with relative ease. Two days into the project and a lot has been done. All the walls are framed and standing, and work is starting on the roof rafters. The team has been working very hard, in spite of the mid 90 degree temperatures and burning sun. Water is being consumed at record levels and the sweet smell of sunscreen fills the air. I can't help but be impressed by their resolve and desire to serve this colonia, both now and in the future. It doesn't end with the completed school, this is a life long commitment to educate and help a group of people that need our lives to connect with theirs for the good of both. I'm proud to have them here on our team and proud of Mikee and Michelle for organizing and challenging these young future leaders of our country into serving others with the gifts and talents God has given them. Today, we will stay through the dinner hour and grill hot dogs and hamburgers for the people in the colonia.
Isaiah 58 promises that God will protect us in a sun scorched land and He sure does.Saturday, Paula and I started painting the huge pile of wood for the trade school. At first it was just the two of us and then some kids joined the "fun". Before long several other people joined us and we made a pretty good dent in the hundreds of pieces of lumber that needed a coat of paint. Elizabeths' kids were helping also and she brought us lunch at the right time, just when we were running out of gas. It was really hot and there was no shade on the site, so we borrowed Roy and Rebeccas canape shade and that really made quite a difference, being able to work in the shade. We packed up after 8 hours of painting and I don't think we are half done, so I hope a few people will show up on Monday and get started before we arrive. I need to contact our insurance company because our house in Pharr sustained some hail damage to the roof from the storm last month and today I thought I should check it out, and sure enough, there was considerable damage to the shingles. HAPPY MOTHERS DAY TO ALL MOMS AND STEP MOMS.
Last night, Paula and I went to the Mercy Me concert that our girls bought us tickets for my birthday present and it was awesome. They have had so many great songs over the years, but everyone came to hear their greatest hit I Can Only Imagine. As the question is asked in the song, when we get to Heaven are we going to stand in His presence or are we going to fall on our knees? Are we going to be able to do anything at all? I just want to see the one who paid the penalty for ALL my sins and gave me His righteousness as a gift and Worship Him as the Spirit moves me. Worship on this side of Heaven, as far as I see it, is offering up our bodies as a living sacrifices to do what He asks of us, whenever He asks us to. Romans 12 says that this is our reasonable act of Worship. Even though I fail to do all that He asks of me, I still consider it an honor to be serving Him here helping the poor in Mexico. The needs over there will never go away, so I know that God will always have something for us to do. I cleaned and organized the warehouse today and it just doesn't seem to get empty. We give and give the food away and it never empties. We met an 85 year old man Lupe' and His bride Francesca the other day. They live in a leaky house on the other side of the canal and could really use a new house. They are both new believers in Christ and as a result of their new found faith, got married last year after many years of living together, and I mean many, many years. Although we usually try to find families with kids needing a home, Roy and I both thought we could build them a slightly smaller home, to fit on the lot they have and bless them in the later years of life. The wood arrived for the trade school yesterday and Roy covered it up before the heavy rains last night. We hope to started painting it tomorrow. So I turned 55 yesterday and I still can't believe I'm that old. Thanks for the phone calls and well wishes.
When the truck backed up to the foundation to deliver the load of caliche' to back-fill before the concrete comes, all 15 tons was dumped in one spot and needed to be spread over a 30 X 30 foot area to a depth of 10 inches in some spots and 20 in others. But with so many men out of work, it wasn't hard to find some that wanted to make a few bucks. In a little less than two hours, they had the foundations ready for the "BIG POUR" of concrete. The truck arrived just as we were getting ready to leave, but we needed to take some photos, so we stayed until it was done. The trade school will be a huge blessing to the colonia and yesterday, Pastor Victor said He would teach the fine art of tapestry, or upholstery repair. When the team arrives next week from IIT they will have their hands full to get it all built in the time they have here. I'm sure God will getter done. The things we have to do without Carmelo, are a little strenuous, but we are trusting God for the right people to help us and so far so good. The one photo of a make shift house, with tar paper as a barrier from the elements, will be the next house we build with a matching grant donation from our church for the second time this year. Praise God for generous hearts!!! I just got a list of all the people that helped the team from Moraine Valley Church that just left, and I am so grateful that people respond to the needs of the poor and help us build these houses, provide funding for kids to attend school and all of the other projects we are called to get involved in. I shared with the Pastors that we had at our place in the colonia on Saturday, that in spite off all the evident needs that are present here in Mx that God doesn't respond to our needs, He responds to our faith. Meeting the needs of others is faith in action, and the more we spend our resources on meeting the needs of others, the more God gives us to meet more needs.