I’ve realized images are often very powerful with readers! In an effort to show you the day-to-day of my life here in Tucson, I thought I’d post a few pictures.
From left: April, me, Hanbyeol, Allie, our workout instructor, Will, and Grace
The Hen House getting our workout on! April has been a huge encouragement to our house to “get physical” as a group from her church does “boot camp” 4 days a week at a local park. Throughout the year, we’ve all encouraged each other to try our best to get working out. From “Meet Me at Maynard’s” – a Monday evening walk downtown – to hiking Tummamoc to working out at the YMCA and encouraging each other to bike more. I know I need to work on being more consistent with my workouts so it’s great when we help each other out. This past week, we did a bunch of squats, wall sits, push ups, and crunches. I was sore for a couple of days.
“CHRPA school” on Thursday
As I’ve been volunteering at CHRPA (Community Home Repair Project of Arizona), I have been learning the “tricks of the trade” for plumbing, electricity, roofing, etc. Our jobs can be anything from: replacing or snaking out a toilet, replacing, re-wiring or starting a swamp cooler, patching a roof, ripping out a bathroom or kitchen floor and replacing the old plywood with a new piece to prevent a future leak. The picture above was taken by my housemate, Allie who also works at CHRPA along with my other housemate, Hanbyeol who is standing in the background to my right. This picture is of us unclogging a sample toilet and learning how to use a snake (the tool pictured above).
The picture above: My host padre (father), me and my host abuelo (grandfather). I was down in Agua Prieta, Mexico teaching English classes at DouglaPrieta Works for a week since my fellow YAV, James was on the 75-mile “Migrant Trail Walk.” (James’ trek went from Sasabe, Mexico to Tucson, Arizona in order to simulate the arduous, exhausting, dangerous, desperate, challenging journey that millions of migrants have made and will continue to make to the U.S.)
DouglaPrieta Works is a community center built by the Agua Prieta, Mexico and Douglas, AZ communities that empower women to gather together and learn how to cook, crochet, embroider, garden, raise chickens, land earn English. The women extended hospitality towards me that reached a level that I have never experienced. I am humbled and continue to realize how much effort and attention to detail they took in order to make sure I had a meal everyday and a place to sleep every evening. Between all of the women, I had like four new mothers by the end of the week. I am still trying to process all that happened in Mexico. I cannot fully articulate all that I saw and experienced.
I got the chance to teach the women of DouglaPrieta Works (or DouglaPrieta Trabaja) English phrases for foods and sewing materials. Since many American and international groups come on “Border Delegations” in order to learn about border towns, they visit DouglaPrieta Trabaja about a Mexican community that is sustaining and empowering itself. People who live in Agua Prieta want their children to stay there and so they hope that creating this community center will create a stronger bond within their own community. Teaching English may seem counter intuitive but many of the women want to learn how to say phrases in English in order to interact with the guests from the United States and other parts of the world. Some of them have mentioned that they want their children to learn English so they can legally enter the United States. It was interesting seeing this dynamic between wanting to stay in Mexico yet also desiring another life in the United States in a relational context, not just in an article I read online.
It was a really awesome experience talking to my host father about his work in construction as I am learning a lot at CHRPA. He would teach me things about his own work and tell me about how he built his own home. It was awesome to have this connection with him because before, I would never know how to relate or talk to someone about construction. Let alone, in Spanish. (Before, I would definitely listen and want to know more but not actually have any context. Once again, I was reminded of how unique and felt greater appreciation for this YAV year as I further understand a trade I would never know about otherwise).
My host family and I right outside the Mexican Presbyterian Church. I got the privilege of staying with two different families in Agua Prieta. (The only one not in the picture is my host dad!)
The host family that I stayed with – pictured above- had five children. I’ve always wanted to know what being in a larger family was like and so, I got a quick taste of it. I became the sixth child those couple of days. We spent a few days and nights together playing Candy Crush, hide-and-go seek, going to the Internet Cafe to check Facebook and to play video games, talking about differences and similarities between the United States and Mexico, teaching each other English and Spanish and eating wonderful food together. This family has a huge place in my heart. They are the definition of “unconditional hospitality.” Every moment of my time spent in Mexico, I felt so close to God’s embracing and unconditionally loving presence. Both families that I stayed with went above and beyond any expectation of hospitality that I could have imagined. They completely left me dumbfounded and humbled by how far they would go in order to make me feel at home. They offered me their bed and would feed me relentlessly and lovingly.
These are a few snap shots from the past month here in the Sonoran desert. They are definitely the high points. There have been low points too. But these days, I have been really amazed with how this year has given me everything that I needed when I needed to receive or give it. While I often did not see these gifts at the time and may have been too overwhelmed or challenged to see them, I am seeing how they are blessing my walk with a faithful God. God has given me everything that I “collaged” about earlier this year…just not in the way I had initially hoped for it to happen. But I am finding peace with that now because I see how I needed events and situations to happen in certain ways and in a certain order.
These beautiful, precious moments remind me of the goodness of this journey. It has been a challenging, inspiring, trying, testing, beautiful, confusing, unique, earth-shattering, humbling, empowering year. I am grateful for it all because if not, I would not have grown. I am thankful for growth. I still have much to learn but I am starting to reap the harvest of that growth.