It wasn't a vacation, but it was fun. Reese, Hilary, Joy, and I just returned from an extra long week in Guadalajara Mexico. Mornings were spent mixing concrete, painting, cleaning, and destroying in order to rebuild a school in the Santa Ana district of Guadalajara. More than the job and the accomplishment of an amazing amount of work, we, along with other members of our church's high school youth group, hope that our time working alongside the Mexicans was as much an encouragement to them as it was to all of us.
The photo on the left was taken at a spot just down the street from the school. We were there during the Fiesta de Santa Ana, a week long festival to honor the patron saint of the area. Every day at noon, fireworks would explode in anticipation of the parade at week's end. The noon time explosion signaled something completely different for our group. Noon meant that there was only one more hour before quitting the day's hard labor. We eagerly anticipated the firework "clock."
Sumptuous Mexican lunches were lovingly home prepared for us by Lulu, one of the members of the church congregation in Moctezuma. Lulu starts from scratch with all of her ingredients. All from scratch, all the time. EVERYTHING WAS DELICIOUS. Now, I have the inside scoop on how to acquire her locally famous recipes. Woohoo!
After lunch, in Moctezuma, our group helped host a Vacation Bible School for children in the neighborhood. In spite of a potential language barrier, everyone found a friend from another country by the end of the week. We played games, sang songs (in Spanish,) did some crafts, and talked about faith in El Señor.
The most amazing thing to me about the whole trip however, was how well everyone gelled -- within our group, and with the Mexicans. The potential for high stress was huge, but it never seemed to be an issue. Every night we had a sort of debriefing to give everyone a chance to discuss their day. We used the analogy of a rose bush for our talking points. A rose was some one's favorite thing of the day. A thorn was the least favorite thing of the day. And a bud was something for which someone was hopeful for the coming day. It was great. Some experiences overlapped, good and bad, but all in all the longer than a week week was extremely positive, like a sweet smelling rose.