Hello Usila!

Oh what a day. Full of surprises, twists and turns. And not just the the ones found going up the mountain from Tuxtapec. I blame Maria Elena for saying how great and smooth everything is going. Words you should never start the day with apparently. Especially in a 3rd world country.

I must admit I woke up so nice and refreshed. The room was 18°C and I was snuggled under my nice warm blanket. Alesha on the other hand. Had gone from roly poly to ice queen. As predicted she wasn’t as happy about the cold room as I was. She ended up sleeping in pants, shirt, and hoodie.

From there we dressed quickly and headed to breakfast at the church. There were bread baskets that looked so perfect you’d think they were those plastic fake loaves used to decorate. We had scrambled Juevos Rancheros, freshly squeezed orange juice, and black bean & cornmeal tamales. All freshly made with fresh cut fruit. We were almost done when all of a sudden they say “leave room, more food is coming”. Too late!

Maria Elena saved us with a tour of the school. We got to see the kids again!
Truly I’m just in love with them. They had the biggest smiles for us. We hugged and kissed them and after that momentary tease had to say goodbye again.
Caleb led us in our daily devotional. He did awesome!

Caleb doing the devotional. Maria interpreting.

We read from 2 Corinthians 8:1-4 NLT
[1] Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia. [2] They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity. [3] For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. [4] They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. This was basically the theme for the entire trip.

How fitting. Brother Don then asked if anyone could sing a song for worship. Oh Shannon… She immediately said “Carmen can sing”! Well put on the spot like that, how do you say no? Especially when it’s to worship God! I sang “Here I am Lord”. The only song I’ve known most of my life. I was honestly happy I did it. I felt something new in me. As much as I love to worship and have mostly stopped listening to other music, I’ve not sang for anyone but God and myself at church. It was freeing. 

From there we headed back to the hotel to grab our luggage and bring it back to the church to be ready for the bus that would take us to Usila. And there, right there, is where things started getting interesting. Maybe saying “God had other plans for us is a better way to say it”.
The bus was late. And when it arrived the sun was out and the humidity was in full force. The guys from the church loaded the bus. Unfortunately it wasn’t done the best way it could be, and we had to take almost everything back out and put it in ourselves. Apparently bananas don’t go under canned goods… Who knew?
Once that was done, we loaded the bus and were gifted with God’s natural AC; because you know, this isn’t FL and AC is a thing of luxury here (sorry Alesha, still not sorry). So after sweating more than I do after an hour on the elliptical, I was happy for 40 mile an hour window breeze.


It’s interesting to find the landscape so absolutely beautiful, interrupted by views of little villages made from slabs of concrete, dirt, and poverty. You’re both in awe of the natural beauty of Mexico and embarrassed by the discomfort you feel from your first world problems. Something we’re going to spend the rest of the week getting over.

We arrived in Usila! Thank the Lord! The pastor and his church greeted us with giant smiles and open arms (not to hug us, but to unload the luggage). We immediately unloaded the bus and began combing through our belongings as we pulled out vitamins, ibuprofen, needles, anesthesia, and candy. We were the pharmacy, and we had arrived. I’m still in awe of God’s favor, and that every single thing purchased and donated made it this far!

After that it was lunch time! Chicken, black beans, and tortillas. Caleb ate so much black beans, I will just pray that I’m not sleeping anywhere near him! When asked for more, they plopped a plate so full of black mush it looked like fresh elephant poop! And only Caleb’s eyes lit up like Christmas morning. It’s the little things folks!

Jon, Don, & Maria Elena went to check out the hotel. We stayed behind and played cards, and mingled with some of the locals. My Spanish has never been more helpful. I use it at work begrudgingly daily. But here, where it is the local language, I speak it freely and happily. I feel useful. It was a nice afternoon. We shopped and rode work bicycles. We looked like fools, but we had a blast! We even found an little score with an ice cream cooler!

The trio returned. They didn’t look like they had good news to share with us. They did what moms and dads do when they don’t want to tell the children something. Jon took Maria upstairs, did the hush hush dance, and then stood at the balcony to speak to us. It had to be bad when he wanted to put an entire floor between us.
And then they dropped the bomb! Hotel isn’t finished. Only two rooms have AC. We can send some people to stay there or we can all stay here together. There’s no real showers anywhere, and the toilets don’t flush. I think staying on the second floor was an extremely good idea. Just kidding. We all agreed to stay here at the church. We’d be closer to all the activity, we’d be together, and we’d be doing it like a real mission’s trip. Jon said he was happy and proud at how well we all took it. They started bringing down burlap cots and blankets in preparation. We took all the suitcases upstairs to a community room.

The Doctors arrived! I didn’t mention it before, but there had been some very real concerns about them not making it. You see, Mexico is in the midst of an educational uproar. Teachers are being let go to put more qualified individuals in place. This affects the livelihood of many families’ income. So in response there has been riots and blockades set up all around Mexico. Most specifically this has occurred in Oaxaca the state we are currently traveling in. Shannon prayed that just like Moses parted the Red Sea, God would part the blockades so that Laura and her team could make it through. And of course wouldn’t you know it, that is exactly what happened. Not only that, but at one point they were lost and a local police officer offered to assist them in getting through a tricky part. Absolutely how “on point” our prayers have been answered.
After their arrival and some meetings, introductions and job assignments, we turned into a pharmacy. All the vitamins and drugs had to be counted and put in small clear bags for distribution. We also hand wrote the labels with the instructions in Spanish for each bag. We ate dinner in shifts, to keep the assembly line going and get the job done. And so we did.

It started to pour. And after sweating and drying so many times through out the day, I came up with the brilliant idea of showering in the rain! It was AWESOME!! Dylan, Hannah, Caleb, Maddie, Stephan, and Mike all joined in on the fun! And boy was it! It felt so good and better than the concrete squares that were the alternative.

After that it was time to set up the cots and hit the sack! Pun intended. This trip got real, real quick. But I’m even more excited about it now. I feel like more and more we’re digging in and making memories. We’re being flexible and open, ready to receive. I can’t wait for tomorrow when we really dig in and begin to heal and minister to people. I was asked by Jon to do the devotional tomorrow. I said yes immediately. Something else I’ve never done! Bring it God, cause I’m ready and hungry for it!
Well it’s 1am and I need to give this sleep thing a try. Jon finally fell asleep, Maddie is talking in hers, and the rest of the crew has been out for an hour. So I guess it’s time to call it a day!


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