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2011-2012 Tijuana Knox young adult Mission Trip

Here is a blog recap of our 2011-2012 Amor Trip.  This is not the whole story but some of the highlights.

Wednesday – Dec. 28 

The 11 of us arrive at Knox at 3:45 AM, ready to head out to Midway so that we can have our tents set up before sunset at the Amor camp outside Tijuana.  The traveling goes very smoothly.  We pick up Kenny at the airport in San Diego and then Melissa at the Amor Office closer to the border.  Our group is finally complete – the 13 of us.

We cross the border quite simply and take the toll road along the States-Mexico wall to the Amor camp.  We quickly set up camp and establish our home for the next four nights.  We are all quite tired from our long day of travel and do not have any problem or objection to our heads hitting the pillows.

Thursday – Dec. 29

Our Amor Team Leader is Fernando – he is the first Amor Team Leader who was born and raised in Tijuana.  He is laid back and easy to talk with.  We arrive at the Barron Rios family home and meet Enrique at the gate.  We are not sure who he is.  There are no grand introductions.  This is typical for an Amor Trip because sometimes the families want to be involved and sometimes they don’t.  We quickly start scouting out the area, lay and square the foundation’s frame, and start mixing, pouring, and smoothing concrete.  This takes up all of Monday and by the end of the day we have a foundation.

Toward the end of the workday – Mark decides to go over and join a soccer game that’s already started.  Mark’s a good soccer player.  Bryce and Kyle join in too.  Kyle is not a good soccer player.  Playing soccer with the kiddos becomes a regular occurrence when there is free time.  Another highlight of the day is meeting four extremely cute puppies that belong to the family.

Friday – Dec. 30

We arrive in the morning and our concrete has had a night to dry and we’ve had a night of sleep. Some slept well – others didn’t.  Sleeping in the Mexican desert should be classified as a form of art.  Day two is building the walls and roof and putting them up.  We set up our stations and start working.  There’s a lot of sawing, measuring, and hammering.  The paved soccer/basketball court is a really nice place to build walls.  Eventually, we have all the walls done and put them in place.  It takes a while to center everything and make sure the house is square.  Once it’s square, the roofing frame goes up and we’ve got ourselves something that resembles a house.  Pretty amazing for two days of work – the only problem is that you can see through it…

Friday we get to know Enrique’s wife – Avrea – and I start exchanging smiles with her.  We also meet more of the family.  Enrique and Avrea have three sons and three daughters.  One of their daughters lives next door in another Amor house.  Therefore, there are children around constantly, which is a great joy!  For us none Spanish speakers, it is fun to interact and attempt our limited Spanish with them.

Saturday – Dec. 31

Most everyone had a better nights sleep on the second try.  We return to the Barron Rios’ property with a structure that resembles a house.  Our roofing team heads up to the roof for a sun filled day spent with tar.  Our ground team then wraps the house repeatedly.  We wrap the house in lines of bailing wire, then in thick black paper (the house is no longer see through), and – finally – we wrap the house in chicken wire.  The house then receives its first coat of stucco, which is when the TEAM aspect of the trip is most visible.  There are people making stucco – watering stucco – carrying stucco – and applying stucco.  We resemble ants and a team the most at this point because this involves everyone running around a lot and we have found our groove after days spent working together.

However, the highlight of our day was definitely when the Barron Rios family made us a meal.  It was incredible chicken salad with pop to drink.  Momma Avrea served us all and then we went inside their new home to eat.  For the first time, we had a Q&A session with the family.  It was great for me to feel like I could finally communicate.  We wanted to know everything about them – little and big – how’d they meet? – how many kids and greadkids do they have? – are they going to keep the puppies?  Then the questioning turned on us and they wanted to know what each one of us did for our professions. We went around and there were some pretty comical moments.  We thanked them for their generosity and they thanked us for coming from so far to help them.

Sunday – Jan 1

We woke up to a New Year.  We pack up the tents and head over to the Barron Rios house for the last coat of stucco and the last time.  We go straight to work when we arrive – we are in the zone after three days.  Some of the family had come over to their house for New Years and they still had a rented karaoke machine so all of the sudden some unexpected Backstreet Boys starts blaring as we stucco.  This eventually leads to karaoking and incredible dancing by the entire group.  It is a really joyful party and once again it feels like the language barrier does not exist as we rejoice together.  However, after one last song it is time to go.  So, we gather and pray for the family.  Bruce gives them the keys to their new home and we load up the vans.  As we pull away, the entire family is outside the gate waving goodbye to us – it is a beautiful God moment to complete a beautiful God-filled trip.

Norway in a Nutshell

We arrived in Oslo, Norway with our list of things to do and an idea of what order we wanted to do them in.  We spent our first night settling in and finding our bearings by walking around Oslo.

Norwegian Parliament Building (flag is up when Parliament is in session):

Thursday we got up and headed over to the City Hall, which is where the Nobel Peace Prize is handed out every year.

Nobel was Swedish and the rest of the Nobel Prizes are handed out in Sweden, but he wanted this one prize to be handed out in Norway (there are some assumptions to why he did this, but no one is sure).  We had an excellent guided tour by our guide, Ivan, who was paid by the city to give tours throughout the day at no charge.  They only had two murals on the wall of previous people who had received the Nobel Peace Prize: Obama and Wangari Maathai from Kenya.  I had the opportunity to meet Wangari Maathai when I was in Kenya at an Obama Election Party… kind of cool. Continue Reading…

Brett Dennen – Ain’t No Reason

I’m Back, 09/09/09, and Twist and Shout

I’m still alive.  Sorry for the three week silence, but since I’ve returned to the States I’ve studied for and taken two ordination exams, moved back down to Austin, and started classes again yesterday.  I am working on my final posts for Europe and will post them tonight or tomorrow and then start blogging about being back.  Yep.

Today was quite the day!  Apple keynote by Steve Jobs with new iTunes, remastered Beatles, Obama’s health care speech, and it being 09/09/09.  Cool, crazy day.  KGSR (one of the best radio stations I’ve ever listened to) played the remastered Beatles all afternoon and at one point Twist and Shout was played.  The DJ said that John Lennon would sing this song with such passion that he couldn’t talk after singing it sometimes.  Somehow, I heard the song in a way I’ve never heard it before which led me to watch it on YouTube several times.  So, here you go.

Music: Jackson Squared

Alright, I told myself I would do this while I was in Lodwar, but got distracted somehow.

In Lodwar, I was spotted easily and often as a mzungu (white person).  When I stood up from bed in the morning the first thing I heard was mzungu from the children lining the fence by where we were staying.  I’m use to this to an extent in Nairobi, but not from my bedroom.  So, after two weeks of this I needed some emotional release and I found this through music on the five year old iPod my good friend Brian gave me before I left for Kenya.  So, Jackson Browne and Michael Jackson were my good companions on this trip.

Jackson Browne was my first concert!  Whoo Hoo!  The baby sitter fell through for my little brother and me so my mom stayed home with Patrick and I went with my dad to see Jackson Browne.  I don’t remember much of the concert except that at one point I told my dad that I had to pee, he looked down at me and said, “Are you sure?”  Funny question I had never heard before.  His favorite song had just started so he picked me up and ran with me to the bathroom and back.  This is the only time I can remember my dad picking me up because he has a bad back.  So, that’s why I remember my Jackson Browne concert.

This song is amazing!  My favorite line is “Honey you really tempt me, you know the way you look so kind.”  Also, the age and the years he mentions are the same age my dad was in those years.  He and Jackson Browne are the same age.  Enjoy!

Here is the song I had to pee during… Amazing!:

Michael Jackson died… not cool. Kenya helped me reconnect with one of my favorite musicians because he was played in every matatu and you would walk by a restaurant and hear his music. So, thank you Kenya and Michael for the good times.

The true introduction of Michael Jackson as a solo artist with the first moon walk the year I was born:

The best choreographed music video in my humbled opinion of all time… ever… humbled (try to ignore the lyrics written in or watch it seven times like I do)(Warning: violence):

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