Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Spring Yucatan Missions

Throughout the spring Carrie's Heart missions to the Yucatan focused on moving needed supplies for our sponsored children into the region. We also focused on building relationships with all of our families. During home visits we collected information about each of child's family background, medical history, disability and overall needs. This information will be used for us to determine how to best help each family improve the life of their child in the home and community. We also continued to build relationships with local community members, visiting professionals, and organizations who are working with us on helping special children in the region.

A highlight of the spring trips was the trip that fell over Easter weekend. Semana Santa is a very special time in Mexico both religiously and also as a time to focus on family. As happens with many of our trips, we have to adjust & adapt our goals of the mission trip based on what is going on in Mexico or in the families' lives when we arrive. Often our best experiences are the ones that are unplanned! This was definetly true at Easter. Our goals before arriving had been to have meetings with each family to go over the beliefs of our organization and our expectations of our sponsored families. We quickly saw however that Semana Santa was not the right time. Our regular drivers were all on vacation & our families were all enjoying time with their family and church communities. So our plans shifted to enoying time with our families and their church communities! The experiences we had were incredible!

Our Easter celebration with each family was very special. We make "Easter Buckets" for each family to share with all the children & adults in the family. Our plan was to make Easter baskets...however no baskets were to be found...so we used wash buckets! A functional alternative! We filled each bucket with plastic eggs stuffed with candies & pesos, pan dulce, cookies & fruit. We also bought a special gift for each sponsored child and plenty of stuffed animals were donated for all the children! At every home we went to we were offered a meal or a drink! A very humbling experience when you consider the needs of the families and their desire to show us gratitude through their offerings. On Good Friday we arrived at Jose's house (a typical Mayan hut) only to find the family was not home. Thanks to the modern convenience in Mexico of almost everyone having cell phones we were able to contact Jose's father. Jose's father quickly arrived to the home and escorted us to their church. Going down winding dirt roads & up a rocky hill we arrived at the church in time to experience the end of their Good Friday service. An awesome experience! Paige, Doe & I snuck very quietly...and without notice (not quite!) into the church next to Jose! The expression on his face was PRICELESS! He was so surprised to see as at his church! The church was a very small open air community church made of stick walls & a palapa roof. The church community was extremely friendly and accepting of us being there. Following the service everyone stopped by to introduce themselves to Jose's friends. It was incredible getting the opportunity to see Jose in his community! After meeting everyone we took Jose and his family down to the van to give them their "Easter Bucket". We arrived at the van only to see that EVERY child had followed us to the van! Luckily our driver Carlos had spent part of the morning filling Easter bunny goody bags with candies and cookies that were intended for the buckets for the Cozumel families the next day. We presented Jose with his families' bucket and couldn't let the others miss out! We passed out all of our goody bags...and even had to begin passing out our melting mini chocolate donuts that Doe had brought along for the road!!! WOW! A great moment!

During Easter weekend on Saturday evening we had a birthday party for Valerie and her sister Veronica & cousins Lupita and Juanito. We had the great plan of slumber party for all the kids chaparoned by Alejandra (Valerie's mother), Paige & myself. We started off with dinner and playing at McDonald's in Cozumel. From there we went to our hotel room and set up the party - complete with cake and presents! Each child received a bathing suit, a new outfit, and a toy. For a group gift we bought the kids pool noodles & sandcastle toys for the beach. We watched movies, had cake and soda and played until way too late! By midnight all of the "chaperones" were wondering who's "great" idea it was to have a sleep over with 4 wide awake kids under 10! But watching Valerie's face light up with joy and laugther with her bubble machine...seeing her snuggle in bed with the other kids...seeing her excitement of having her first birthday party EVER...made it all worth it! Thank you to everyone who helped make the birthday possible...we appreciate all of your donations!

Easter Sunday was particularly special for Paige & I. Following the birthday party the night before we were a little groggy but the experiences of the day got us going! Alejandra began shuttling the kids home by moto. I bathed Valerie and got her ready for the day in her new Easter outfit. (The hair style in her pictures is my fault...I couldn't resist getting her the lambies for her hair!) To bath a child on Easter morning, who only a year earlier you had found close to death, is an overwhelmingly undescribable experience. To even top that...on the way to take Valerie home we saw Easter service about to begin in the main cathedral in the plaza. Valerie, Paige and myself went to Easter service together. Paige & I in our Carrie's Heart t-shirts for all to see...and Valerie in my arms! Changing hearts...changing minds!!!!

After the service we took Valerie home & set off to deliver buckets to Gladys and Juan Diego. All the families were happy to see us & were also perplexed by the whole concept of an Easter Bucket! Try explaining that in Spanish! Our planned trip to the beach for Valerie's family on Easter Sunday afternoon became an impromptu gathering of our families! We had a great time on the beach with Valerie' s family, Juan Diego's family, Jorge's family (our new driver & team member) and Alex's family. Alex is one of the student's at the CAM school in Playa that we have been working with! What a surprise to look up and see his family with us at the beach that day! One of our goals has been to create community amongst our families and to raise awareness in the communities that we are working in....we truly met those goals this day! It was great seeing all the kids and their siblings playing together...and the adults visiting and sharing their experiences!!!

A HUGE thank you to all who help sponsor the children! Whether you help by being a monthly sponsor, giving monetary donations, donating supplies & special items like gifts....or donating your time....we appreciate it all! Most importantly the families are grateful to you all!
Spring Yuctan Mission Pics
Spring Yucatan Missions: Semana Santa Pics

A special thanks to all we supported the birthday & Easter activities this trip:

Doe Stowell
Sally Crompton
Nora Nasr
Kristy Crawford
Lisa Williams
Olivia Pelech
Zuiloff Family
Angi Johnson
Paige Whitten
Carrie Conn
Carolina D. Conn

Spring Mission Team Members:
Carrie Conn
Paige Whitten
Doe Stowell
Patricia Carey
Angeles Esparza
Barbara Carlson
Louise Stafford
Gayle Hanna
Pauline Harper
Christine Thomas
Rosy Pirez
Marcos (Main Driver & assistant Playa - Carrillo Puerto)
Carlos (Playa - Carrillo Puerto driver)
Antonio (Cozumel driver)
Jorge (Cozumel driver)
Octavio (Airport transfer driver)

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