December 2, 2011


Um, so I was gone for a spell, no? I kinda think everyone is too busy to notice my little{big}absence of late. These holiday months are a doozy.

November ate me alive and spit me out in a million pieces. Well, more accurately, I bit off waaaay more than I could chew, so technically it was my fault...not November's fault. I must have thought I was super woman when I signed on for so many jobs...but apparently I am not.

Even though I was super frazzled and stressed last month, I don't want to forget about our little trip to Mexico.

Last spring, my pastor decided he'd like to take the whole church to Mexico on a 4-day missions trip, so that our church would be transformed. He called it "Adios, 11-11-11". My first impulse was "YES! We want to go!"...followed by "Oh no. What are we gonna do about Ollie and Twain?"

I debated for months. It would be nice to leave them behind with Grandma...but 4 days is a LONG time for Ollie to be away from me. And I did not want him to regress. He's been doing so well with life. I did not want to rock the boat. On the other hand, I knew my options in Mexico would be very limited while watching Ollie and Twain.

We prayed about it and finally John made the executive decision to bring them with us. "They are part of our family and this is a family experience! We will make it work!" he declared.

I felt relieved. I was happy with his decision.

We left for Mexico, early thursday morning with a 10-car caravan. That was insaaaaane.

At one point, we had to get off the freeway and ended up at the Santa Anita mall near Nordstrom.

Ollie pipes up from the back seat "Are we in 'Maxico' yet?"

Ohhhhh Ollie. Maxico. Hahaha.

"No honey. We are not in Maxico". Poor thing had no idea what he was getting into, if he thought Nordys was Mexico.

He then asked if we were staying in a hotel.

Boy oh boy. This was gonna be fuuuuuun.

Once we got to the border, our caravan got split up and all chaos ensued. I have been to Mexico 3 times before, but not since having kids. This was a completely different ballgame. For a moment there, I did question the sanity of bringing 4 children.

But soon enough, we were driving again...through the beautiful Mexican countryside, and I exhaled a sigh of relief.

Mexico has its own beauty and charm. The houses are so colorful!

I asked John if we could paint our house pink and he said "no".

Going through checkpoints until we reach our final destination: Rancho El Refugio.

There were almost 800 people from our church attending and so everything had to be extremely organized. We set up our tent in Zone 2.

The next day, everyone went to their respective sites to build houses, dig septic tanks, visit prisons and orphanages, etc.

Ollie and Twain were signed up for childcare at the ranch--if you chose the childcare option, then the rule was, one parent had to stay behind at the ranch. John and I agreed ahead of time that he would take Finn and Calvin to the building site, while I would stay behind at the ranch.

So that friday, 11-10-11, I stayed behind, doing odd jobs at the ranch.

And meet dog. He was the cutest dog I've ever seen at the ranch...and John wants one just like him.
Even though it's the cutest dog ever, I do not want a dog at all on account of all the poop, but that is another story for another day. I do love this dog though!

One of my dearest friends Alisha, also stayed behind at the ranch that friday, so that is why we got to hang out. Don't mind our squinty eyes. It was bright out.

Meet my nemesis. I seriously had to work up my courage all day to enter this beast. One of my jobs was to restock these porta-potties with new toilet paper.
Do you see that mint green basin to the left of the photo? Well. When I saw that all the toilet paper was getting all filthy just sitting there, I thought it would be a good idea to keep it nice and clean and place it in the tidy mint green basin. Yes indeed. That's what I did. I put all the tp in the nice clean mint green basins.

Later that day, I heard that the 'professional cleaners' came by and were replacing all my tp. "Hm...that's odd", I thought. What a waste of tp! Why are the replacing all my tp???!!

It was not til I got home to America that my friends informed me that the mint green basin to the left was the urinal.

I laughed til I cried. It's a true story.

And I have no idea what these yokels are so chipper about, skipping to and fro, holding hands amongst the porta-potties. {My friends think it's weird that I like to hold hands and skip to the potty. Do you??)
I bet those smiles would vanish to tears if they actually had to use these beasts. They got to use their little potty in the tent.

Later that day, Lish and I trekked up the steep rock path to the Hacienda house, where daycare was held. My biscuits are still burnin' from trekking up and down that hill 128391 times each day.

That afternoon, we helped watch our kids and made fleece twist-tie blankets.

Meanwhile, John and the boys were busy painting and nailing a little house. Since I was not there, I treasure these pictures.

The boys with their cousins.

The foreman of the building made special care to include the children in every aspect of the building process, to make them feel a part of the entire process. I'm still in awe.

Later that night, everyone returned to the ranch, exhausted but with smiles on their faces. Every night we got to attend chapel on the hillside...and singing with 800 of your church family members on a mountainside under the stars...there is NOTHING like it. Nothing.

Here is the little chapel we got to attend each night.

The next day was saturday, 11-11-11. I asked John if I could bring Ollie and Twain to the building site, but he said no--there was barbed wire and he thought they would get in the way. I was a little bummed, because Alisha got to take her kids on site that day...but I did not argue. We had already agreed ahead of time that I would stay behind with Ollie and Twain.

It was forecast to rain that Saturday. And we all knew it. Most people shopped ahead of time for rain boots and ponchos.

Saturday morning was still nice and so I decided to take the boys for a walk before dropping them off in childcare.

Romping about the campsite.

I was scheduled to work in daycare around noon. I trekked up that long rock path and settled in at the Hacienda for a while. My boys were the only ones there that day. By noon it was sprinkling.

It started to rain harder.

By two o'clock it was raining so hard, I could not hear anything except for rain pounding on the roof of the Hacienda. Twain and Ollie snoozed as Tangled played in the background.

I was starting to get nervous. "Are Finn and Calvin in this torrential downpour?" I wondered. Calvin had an ear infection.

I just prayed. And prayed.

While the rest of my church family was outside getting pounded by the rain, I was indoors watching Rapunzel and eating red vines. Don't judge. I really really wished I was out there suffering alongside with the rest of them. Honest. Next year John said me and the younger boys could go on site.

Around 3-ish, my friend Melisa came running up to the Hacienda "Davi!", she gasped. "Everything is flooding! All the tents are getting wet inside. Some people are leaving everything behind and evacuating! Go back to your tent and grab a few things." She then challenged me to leave everything behind for the Mexican people.

I ran down the steep rocky path in my rain boots, hair flying wildy. "I can do this!" I thought. "I can leave everything behind for the Mexican people!"

I rushed into my tent and saw water dripping down everywhere. I have always wondered what the first thing I would grab, in an emergency.

Well, turns out, it's a little porta potty. Ha.

As an afterthought, I grabbed my purse and camera and a bag of dry clothes, and ran to my car. I threw it in the car, determined to leave the rest behind.

I then saw John and the boys pull up in a van. My heart flooded with relief. Everything got crazy at that point.

My sis-in-law{bless her heart} decided to run up the hill with me to grab Ollie and Twain so we could get out of Mexico before the dirt roads flooded. Our tents were wet...we had no place to sleep that night anyway.

As we ran and huffed and puffed she told me "I gathered the kids around and we prayed it would stop raining til we got the roof on...the second we got the roof on, the rain started to pour down torrentially...our kids got to see the power of God!!!!"
We grab the boys...who are now crying...

I'm a little ashamed to admit I was ready to high-tail it out of there, without looking back. I did not want to get stuck there for days in a 3rd world disaster. I'm a bit dramatic, I know.

John started packing up the tent, much to my dismay. "Just leave it! We were challenged to leave everything!"

"Um Davi, it's not our tent and air mattress... and we borrowed that sleeping bag. It's not exactly considered generous when you are leaving everyone else's stuff behind." Teehee. He had a point. I'm such a loser:)

Our team decided to leave together and so I had to wait for everyone to pack up. The next half hour was very long. I did feel a smidge guilty for abandoning ship...We were gonna miss chapel that night. But once again, where would we sleep? Everything was all wet!

Our team was finally packed up and we circled our vehicles around, to exit through the ranch gates. We waited in a line with a few other vehicles.

It wasn't before long, we were given the halt signal: "You can't leave! The police have closed down the streets in Ensenada due to flooding and nobody is allowed to leave! You will have to sleep here tonight."

I died a little inside, ha. I was soooo ready to leave. And now we had to trek 4 wet kids up to the dining hall{aka 'the barn'} in the rain, to sleep tonight? It was just a little much to stomach. But such is life and I decided to embrace God's plan for our trip.

I really truly believe that 11-11-11 was a special day where God sent down pouring rain on our church family, to teach us what it's like to experience a little discomfort in the rain. The Mexican people have to sleep in the rain in little huts and are cold and wet all the time. We are so spoiled. And we needed to know that. And we needed to feel compassion for those that are without. And I do believe that our church body was transformed that day.

Back at the barn, people came straggling in...looking a little dazed and confused. We ate dinner and almost 800 people piled in, looking for refuge from the storm.

Our chapel that night was the most special night ever, as everyone pulled together and bonded over the events of the day.

My boys were so exhausted they could not make it through the entire service and so they crashed on piles of clothes in garbage bags. We looked like a bunch of refugees, LOL.

Laying there on the cold cement floor, with nothing but the shirts on our backs, I felt the most thankful and probably the most joyful I've ever been in my life--surrounded by my precious family and amazing church family.

People dragged in air mattresses and everyone settled in for the night in the barn. I have never heard so many different snores in all my life, none of them in sync. Everyone was up around 4 am, ready to face the day.

By some miracle the rain stopped and it was a perfectly beautiful day to travel.

We left El Refugio at 5:59 that morning and got home at 1:36 in the afternoon.
Adios literally translated means "to God". What a trip. We sure would love to go again. Ollie keeps asking when we are going back to 'Maxico" and played refugee in his closet for days. The trip made quite the impression around here!