They told her to follow the yellow brick road. Dorothy waved good bye and set off on her amazing journey. Along the way she met some interesting people before her journey came to an end. They also learned a lot about themselves and came away with amazing and wonderful insights into the gifts that each of them possessed.
At 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday, February 23 nine of us left the First Baptist Church parking lot for our adventure to Mexicali. Randy Sargent, Mark Hopkins, Carol Calkins, Mark Kane, Erica Corbett, Michelle Chaffee, Lisa Lapointe, Mark Salomon and I sped away in the church van and my Toyota. A light snow began to fall as we got to Route 2 and sped westward. A storm was in the forecast and we hoped to get out before the snow came in earnest. Like the twister that sent Dorothy on her amazing journey to Oz, we were in the middle of a storm as we set off on our mission to Mexico.
We stopped in Colchester and met up with Jake Shanks and Amanda Duntz. They jumped in ready to join us on or adventure. We arrived at the Roncari airport parking an loaded up in the shuttle that would run us over to the airport. We met Andy and Melanie Scheuermann and Roger and Doreen Mainville at the gate and we were off to see our own wizard, the wonderful missionary partners, Rick and Mercy Barnes.
We took our seats and were off to Chicago Midway for the first leg of our journey. When we arrived there we met up with Matt Salomon who was coming in from Baltimore to join us on our trip. The whole crew was finally together. We boarded the plane and continued the journey that would take us over the great plains, the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon and on to the Pacific Ocean. We didn’t meet up with any flying monkeys or wicked witches, but we were ready and flexible in case we did encounter anyone or anything that came along.
For the first time in three years we picked up our rental cars without incident. Three Toyota minivans were waiting for us and we were assured that the gas pedals passed muster and were safe to drive. We were off on our journey through the mountains and the desert of the California southern coast. After two and a half hours in the car, eight hours in planes and airports. At 3:35 p.m. we arrived in Calexico and had lunch/dinner at Carl Jr.s while we waited to meet Rick and Mercy. By 4:30 p.m. we were heading across the border to our home for the next seven days at the Nosostros Con Dios Seminary in Mexicali.
We had our orientation, put our things in our barracks and then headed over to El Buen Samaritano to meet with Ramon and Alma to go over what we would be doing and to deliver invitations to the kids in the neighborhood to join us at Vacation Bible School this week. Ramon and Alma were so pleased to see us. Ramon began talking about the number of projects he had planned. We were going to build the cinderblock walls around the bathrooms and then put a roof over them. He also planned to finish mudding and sanding the walls upstairs in the church. They hadn’ done very much with the upstairs addition since we left last year. If everything went well he wanted us to paint the walls too.
I found it very interesting that even though Ramon couldn’t speak any English, most of thre crew could understand what he was saying through a few key words and hand gestures. Construction seems to have a universal language of its own.
It was dark by the time Alma divided us up in teams to go around the neighborhood with fliers. We went in teams of three or four with a host from the church. I am not sure how it worked in other groups, but we went with Alma. She began by knocking on a few doors and then she encouraged us to go to the doors. Mark Hopkins, Andy Scheuermann and I were tentative at first but we went. Then Alma would jump in and explain. By the time we finished we were even saying a few words like “hello “and “good buy.” I even was able to say this is an invitation to Bible school at the church.
We finished up and then went back to the seminary and most of the group settled in for the night. A few hearty souls decided to brave the night and head out to Walmart for our first visit of the outing. We picked up a few supplies and had a good time.
A few others played cards in the dining room and were glad to be able to relax for a few minutes. By 9:00 p.m. we were all in be after a long first day.