Two days after I got back from St. Louis, the last group of 2009/first group of 2010 arrived from Mayer Lutheran High School in Mayer, MN. They drove 27 hours on a charter bus and arrived the morning ofTuesday, December 28, 2009, to a wet, snowy El Paso. As a group we decided that it was anything but ideal weather to begin building in, especially since the rest of the week was supposed to be beautiful (and that it was), so we toured all the worksites, visited families they had built for in previous years (this was their 5th), and then went to the market. Wednesday morning, though, we got right to work. The process of getting started was made a little easier because Chris and I spent a good chunk of Monday sorting the wood, siding, and OSB into 3 piles and taking it to the sites. Apparently last year it was all at the church and they were impressed; next year we're going to have to square everything or lay out some walls or something!

The group of 36 was divided into 3 work crews--Casa Uno, Casa Dos, and Casa Tres; I was a proud member of Casa Uno. It turns out that the crew chief of Casa Uno is a biology teacher at MLHS who did his student teaching at my former high school, Lutheran High School South...small world! His saying of the week was "Perfecto!" Everything at Casa Uno, usually after we screwed it up the first time and then quickly realized our error so we could correct it, was "Perfecto!" Our house was for a family of nine people: grandmother Elena, grandfather Pedro, their daughter Maria, and her 6 children, the oldest of which was 15. They were incredibly sweet and helpful, as was one of their neighbors, Domingo. There were more than enough people to handle the actual construction, so some of the kids got to play with the neighborhood children all week; they would have handed out candy, crafts, and Bibles, played soccer, and had conversations in broken Spanish 24/7 if I would have let them!

One thing that kept bugging me as I observed what was going on, especially towards the end of the week, was how the kids would come up to me and the kids from Mayer and ask for "money" and "candy," in English. Some things they saw through the van windows and would then pester us about it incessantly for the rest of the day. For some reason it just all of a sudden struck me as really rude. Like, whether or not the Mayer students were planning on handing out more giveway items or not, I was a little offended that they kept coming up and asking for more than they had already gotten, especially when the Mayer kids each already paid several hundred dollars and gave up a week of their time to be there. I don't know if kids who hang around worksites have always done that and I just now noticed it, or if it's a new phenomenon, but I'm not really sure what to make of it. I guess we are all like that sometimes, especially with God, but it was just grating on my nerves all week.

Before you look at the pictures below, please say a prayer for Chris. He has decided to pursue the path to becoming a DCE and found out today that he was accepted into Concordia University in St. Paul, MN. Please pray that he will find a way to pay for the first round of classes he'll need to take. If everything falls into place, he can start in around 10 days.

Oh, and FYI I know how to get keys out of a locked van now, Mexican style...

Leah and William (or something like that)...he was everyone's favorite.

Jeff is a graduate of Mayer Lutheran who currently attends NDSU...I informed him that he is coming back in March with the NDSU spring break group...

Ray and William.

Elena with her oldest granddaughter, Fernanda, and her husband, Pedro in the background.

2 x 4 scraps make great blocks, and cymbals too!

Step 1 of the master plan...what happened was we built the 2 longer side walls and then we had to get this end wall in place...with about a foot of space to play with...

Step 2 of the master worked!

Casa Dos had a pretty sweet view!

Dan the man.

Ray likes power tools!

It wasn't a competition, but... ;)

Hi Oksana!

Hagalo just doesn't make windows like they used to...

...don't worry, a wad of chewed up bubble gum will fix everything!


Oksana handing Elena the keys.

The Casa Uno crew.

Traditional sign picture...

...and not-so-traditional sign picture!

Until next time, blessings!