The Canyon

Yesterday was a full day of work and learning.

We left La mission around 10am and we all headed to the Canyon, the old Tijuana dump. When we arrived we divided into a few different teams:

  • We had two teams work at two different kitchens. The students prepared grilled cheese, water mellon, and chips. It is safe to say we served over 100 people, mostly children. The students commented on everyone’s gratitude and politeness as they came through. Some of the students connected with the children as we served lunch. We had planned to eat lunch after everyone was fed, but we almost ran out of food. Students had to split the grilled cheese into 5ths for their lunch. For many people in the canyon they have missed meals or have not had enough to fill their stomachs. It may have been a first for most if not all of our students to not have enough to eat to fill their stomachs for one meal. Good lesson.
  • Another team walked down the hill to help dig out a house that experienced a land slide this winter. It was hot day in the sun, but the really cleared a lot of dirt for this family. This family has an adult child who is mentally handicapped.
  • We had another team walk with a water truck through the community. People would walk out to the truck with their buckets and jugs for clean water. The students saw first hand the poverty these people live in every day.

Many of the students commented on how they have seen this type of poverty on TV, but it is completely different to see it first hand. They met one of the people who lived in they canyon. Her name is Martita. She shared her story how she used to be addicted to crystal meth. She would dig through the garbage looking for anything she could recycle to buy drugs for her addiction. Then a group built her a small one room house. This act of love turned her life around. Over three years ago she stopped using meth and has been clean since then.

After our time at the Canyon we traveled to the wall that separate our two countries. The people in Mexico has made their side of the wall into an art piece. There are pictures of butterflies and a combined Mexican and American flag. There is also an upside down American Flag which means a sign of distress. This flag represent men and women who served in the US military, but have been deported back to Mexico. I’m not 100% sure of all the stories, but these are men and women who served and fought for the US at some point in time.

Yesterday was an emotional and heavy day to see poverty unlike anything these students have seen as well as considering the human implication of our boarder wall. The students had a lot of take aways from yesterday and we had a great debrief meeting last night.

Today is our final full day here. We leave tomorrow for home. We will post more pictures today, we apologize that we have not been able to post more the last two days. Tonight the blog will have some important information about our return home as well as questions you can ask your students about the trip that hopefully will provide good conversation.

Have a great day!

Day Three

It is hard to believe that we have only been here three days. We have gotten a lot of great work done on all of our projects. These students have worked really hard. After yesterdays work, I got the sense that we needed a little break. So we moved our beach day up to this afternoon. It was a much needed change of pace. We still did good work this morning.

Team Siloe – There is so much going on at Siloe it is hard to remember everything. Stuccoing the wall, moving dirt, cutting trees, emptying and hauling water tanks, moving plywood and preparing the ground for the garden and playground.

Team Open Arms – A small group of students have almost finished sanding, staining and painting the playground set.

Team Primo Tapia – Today was full sanding mode. Smoothing out all the walls from the tapping and mudding.

Last night we heard from DJ. You should ask your student about DJ’s story and what he had to share with them. It is always good and challenging. DJ was a successful businessman in Souther California. He ran a very successful funirture business. He even had an office in San Francisco. One day he was delivering a water pump to an orphanage in Mexico when his life was forever changed. He happened to witness a child getting dropped off at the orphanage he was volunteering at. This moment caused him to move to Mexico and eventually take over Door of Faith Orphanage. In short his messeage to the students was, serving others matters and it changes you and the people you serve. In fact, we were designed to serve others. When we are serving others we are living into who we really are.

This afternoon we heard from Brendan and Sara, the co-founders of Siloe Medical Clinic. They shared how hard it is for people in Mexico, just one hour south of the border, to get basic medical attention. Many of the people here make hard decisions between going and seeing a doctor or putting food on the table for the family. These are hard decisions for families living in poverty.

Tomorrow we will head to the Old Tijuana dump. We will break into a few teams to serve the people there. We will be serving lunch, providing clean water, diggining out a house from a recent landside that happened this winter, and help rebuild a wall. After our time ther we will go an visit the wall that separates our two countries. The wall on the Mexico side is an art piece. There are paintings and phrases that Mexicans have put on the wall expressing their feelings about the wall.

The students are all really tired becasue they have been working hard so bed time hasn’t been too much of a challenge this week. That is a good thing.

Till tomorrow…


Day Two

Hey everyone!!

Today was another full day of work. Everyone is working hard and doing well.

Once again we had a number of projects going on.

– Rock Crew- The rock crew has delivered over 2 ton of rock to Siloe. It has been hard work, but what a blessing to the medical clinic.

– Dirt Crew – We had a team continuing leveling dirt and removing big rocks from the area that will be a future playground and Community garden.

– Stucco Crew – A number of students have tried their hand at stuccoing a wall. A few of the students have done really well in learning the art of stuccing a wall.

– Playground crew – After sanding the playground equipment they began staining, but ran out of stain. We hope to finish it tomorrow.

– Medical Outreach – We had a small group of students go with the Siloe medical team to Primo Tapia. The students did arts and craft with the children while they waited to see the doctor. They had a lot of fun connecting with the students.

– Drywall team – We continued hanging drywall, taping, mudding and sanding the house in Primo Tapia. The crew worked really hard and did really well.

There has also been a lot of baby holding, soccer playing, and fun with the children here at the orphanage. Everyone is doing great and working hard. Tonight we will hear from DJ who is the director of the orphanage. He is always great and inspiring.

Have a great evening!

Day One

We had a great travel day yesterday, but with a little slow up. As we approached the border, the Mexican border patrol pulled us into secondary. We unloaded the van of all our luggage, students got their passports stamped, walked their luggage through an x-ray machine and then reloaded the luggage onto the vans. This has happened to us in the past. With Mexico, you never know what to expect when crossing the border.

After everyone arrived at the orphanage we received some quick instructions and then got a tour of this amazing home. The orphanage is brightly painted, the kids are proud to live here and they enjoy the community here at DOFO.

This morning we broke into a number of work groups.

– Playground Crew – Open Arms Day Care has playground equipment that was in need of some maintenance. Our students sanded and stained the equipment and began painting it as well.

– Rock Crew – A group of 14 students loaded into a van and traveled to a local “rock quarry.” This Mexico rock quarry is where one man with a breaker bar and sledgehammer breaks rock all day and sells it. These are big heavy paver type rocks that will go into the sidewalks of the Medical Clinic.

– Stucco Crew – We had a number of students stuccoing the wall that surrounds the medical clinic. They did a great job learning a new skill. We even had some experienced student stuccoers helping us out.

– Dirt Crew – Students were busy leveling, tamping and moving dirt that will eventually be a community park and garden.

– Primo Tapia Crew – We had a crew working in a house in a small town called Primo Tapia, about 15 min north of La Mision. This crew mainly mudded and sanded drywall for most of the day.

Everyone worked hard and did a great job today.

Tomorrow some of the students will be assisting a medical team. They will be doing arts and crafts with the children while their parents will be receiving medical attention by the PA we are building the medical clinic for in La Mision.

Tonight the students have had some great time playing with the children here, holding babies and playing soccer.

I hear it’s been pretty hot in Northern California. Here, it was warm, but the evening has cooled off nicely. Nothing like the heat you all are getting.