Tijuana Ministry Reflections
Joanna and Martin Thurmann
Valley Catholic Article
Becky Peinado 2014
Tuve la oportunidad de visitar Tijuana con el Ministerio de Santa Julia. fue un tesoro para mi.Fue una experiencia unica maravillosa, no tiene precio. Es dificil de explicar todo lo que vivi. Fueron muchas emociones.
Para empezar las familias todas cerecen de riquezas materials y tal vez de necesidades basicas, pero tienen un gran Corazon. Transmiten una enegria contagiosa que te llena, siempre felices y contentos. Para ellos lo mas importante y lo que los hace feliz es su familia y sus amistades. Comparten lo poquito que tienen, lo hacen sin pensarlo.
Por ejemplo Maria y Martin es la familia a la que me toco ayudar a construir su casa. Martin sufrio de un ataque al Corazon hace dos anos y aun no se recupera. Sus manos no le funcionan y esta en una silla de ruedas. Maria trabaja de las 10 de la noche a las 6 de la manana, a ella solo le pagan 130 pesos. Mas o menos 10 dolares. Por toda la noche. Sus vecinos son super pobres pero durante los tiempos mas dificiles siempre les han ofrecido todo su apoyo. Incluso les ofrecieron que vivieran con ellos porque la casa de ellos estaba en mejor condicion para Martin.
El domingo fue nuestro primer dia de trabajo. Vivi algo que toco el Corazon. Andabamos repartiendo material para la construccion de una de las casas. La familia tiene 7 hijos. Los ninos llenos de enegria y contentos vinieron con nosotros a convivir. Nos tomamos un descanso para ver el partido de Argentin y Alemania. Estabamos comiendo hamburgesas, de repente la nina Yuri me dice que ya se lleno que si se puedellevar el resto de su hamburgesa para su mama. Le dijimos que si. Recuerden la familia tiene 7 hijos. Yuri mete su manita a la bosa de su pantalon y saca otro pedacito de carne de hamburgesas de una servilleta. Ese pedacito era la hamburgesa de su hermanita. La habian guardado para compartirla con su papas. Eso me toco muy fuerte me hace pensar en todo lo que nosotros tal vez no valoramos y tambien pensar seriamente en lo que verdaderamente es importante. Desde ese momento empezar a refleccionar.
Ana su hermanita de mas a menos 9 o 10 anos trabaja en una tienda. Son ninos trabajando, cuidandose unos a otros a su corta edad, ayudando a sus papas a sobrevivir.
Durante este viaje estabamos desconectados totalmente de la internet, del facebook, de el telefono, la computadora pero los teniamos a ellos. Para convivir, darles y recibir amor y Amistad. Nos agradecieron por todo, lloraron de algeria , compartieron con nosotros algunas de su dificultades.
Monica Rising 2014
Treasure Hunting in Tijuana July 2014
After ten years of planning and leading trips, I was only able to go to Tijuana for the last two days this year because of an injury. Even though I couldn’t work, I just had to go to see and share in the treasures of Tijuana. It touched my heart as it has each year.
In the women’s program they massaged one another’s hands and painted each other’s nails. They shared being pampered and serving each other. They felt treasured and valued.
At Casa del Migrante, a shelter for the deported, our workers heard stories of men and women who are separated from their families, and even women separated from their small children. They heard of the heartbreak of being deported. There is treasure in sharing someone’s pain.
One of the family members asked all the workers to paint their hands and then to place their hand prints on the wall of house they had just created. Then they wrote “built by the hands of God” above them. What a feeling of being treasured by the families and the workers.
A child from another family had been praying for a real house “like her friends”. The family was so filled with joy. What a treasure to know that God does answer prayers.
The five houses we replaced had holes in the roofs and walls, often had mold, were coming off their foundations and were very unstable. When we asked yet another of the families what they did with the debris of their house, they explained that they passed it on to a family with a house worse than theirs, so that family could fix theirs up. What was being discarded by one, was treasure to another.
When we see the families with their new homes I am always touched and amazed at their joy of having a safe and secure home.
I am humbled by the simple joy they have in taking a shower in a bathroom or not having to go outside in the rain to use a toilet. I am humbled at their relief in not having to worry about rushing home when it rains to put out the buckets and pans to catch the water leaking from their roof onto their meager belongings.
I then have to ask myself, when was the last time I stopped and was grateful for having a sound roof? When was I grateful for my clean indoor toilet? When was the last time I was grateful for my hot shower? When was I grateful for the question of “What should I have for dinner?”, instead of asking “Will I have something to eat for dinner?”
As I meet and learn about these families, I find their families are their first priority, they are happy with far less than we are. Each year I learn to be happy with less and value my family more. I am humbled by their generosity and love. I learn to be a better person and a better Christian.
I want to thank everyone who supports this ministry each year with your donations and especially your prayers. You, too, are doing God’s work. You are building God’s houses and spreading God’s love. For always, God’s work is fueled by our prayers.
Karissa Peinado 2014
Hello my name is Karissa Peinado and last week I went to Tijuana. It was truly a priceless experience that words cannot describe. Recognizing how materialized our lives are and how unappreciative we are for the simplest things we have in our lives really hit my heart. The people in Tijuana have nothing compared to what we have and they don’t care. What shocked me the most was that we have so much and we’re still not content. The trip was nothing like I expected. It was a wonderful time to help others that truly needed our assistance, to reflect on our own lives, and to appreciate the things we have.
Most of my time in Tijuana I spent as part of the construction crew. I was able to learn the shocking and tragic stories of the people that we were building houses for. I helped build a home for a man named martin and his family. 2 years ago Martin had a heart attack that left him bedridden. They lived it a makeshift house made out of pieces of wood that they would find. They tried to help us in any possible way they could- even if that meant picking up trash that we left behind. And once we finished the house for them, words could not describe how grateful they were. Maria cried tears of joy and kept telling us she always wanted a house of her own. She said God finally heard her and He sent us to fulfill her dream. When she said that my heart filled with compassion for her. I realized at that moment building her a home was a wish that she never thought would come true. It was a blessing to see her happy and knowing that she will live in a home where she will not need to worry about it collapsing. And just before we left the family asked us if all those who helped build their home could put their handprints on the back of the house as a memory. Above our handprints we wrote: “los manos de Dios en accion” which means “the hands of God at work” at her request.
Though most of my week in Tijuana I spent doing construction, I chose Thursday to spend time with the children. What I found out was that the last day of kid’s program was also the craziest. Over 200 kids bombarded us. And throughout the day the children spread their contagious smiles and happiness to all the volunteers on the trip. It was delightful to know that the little things we do with the kids makes a huge difference.
Mexico taught us love and the importance of family through the kids and everyone we met. In Tijuana the older siblings took care of their little brothers and sisters. Family is most important thing to them and it should be to everyone. We take for granted our families and don’t appreciate them as much as we should. People in Tijuana are poor, are struggling to provide for their family and living in makeshifts homes but they are always content. They’re happy because they have the people they love next to them and they know that their family won’t leave them.
Tijuana is a place where one can experience love and community. The people there learn to live an immaterialized and grateful life. My time there was truly wonderfull and it helped me realize that the most important things in this world, like love and family are not bought or sold but are worked for. The people in Tijuana appreciate the life that God gave them and wouldn’t have asked for anything else. From them I learned to be appreciative of the things I have and to thank God for giving me such a blessed life.
Janina Umali 2014
Hi I am Janina Umali and this was my 5th trip to Tijuana.
Like the first reading today with the Lord appearing in Solomon’s dream, I also had a dream that came to me, an divine, angelic man named Deacon Uncle Bob Malone. Now Instead of saying, “ask something of me and I will give it to you.” Instead of giving me a heart so wise and understanding, Bob commanded me “You shall serve in Tijuana Ministry". No, I am kidding.
My first year back in 2009 was very unplanned. While volunteers now spend about 6 months planning ahead of time, I learned I was going a week before the trip. My brother and I were substitutes for my father who couldn’t make it last minute. For my first year going to TJ, I simply thought of the trip as a construction building trip for families in need. I would finally get to cross the border and see what 3rd world conditions were like. I did not know what to expect. My first year I had fun, made some friends with the volunteers who went, helped build 2 homes,but mainly I thought it was a great way to donate my time and energy for others by building homes.
Year after year, it’s still been a fun time and made new friends, building more houses, overcoming more challenges.. but my thoughts and reflections had changed. In Tijuana, I started to feel more at home, I recognized more of the locals, especially the children year after year, and they even remember me! I was no longer a visitor, I was family.
I started going to the TJ Ministry leadership core meetings and through the group of leaders' discussion, I have really shifted what I thought was the focus of the trip and ministry. They’ve defined it in their mission statement: Faith into Action by Building Homes and Community. My eyes opened to see the wonderful community we have helped changed for the better. The community aspect became more apparent when I’ve volunteered in other aspects of the program, like the Mothers, Teens and Children’s program.
In the beginning, it’s a joyous feeling to see the families of the homes we build receive the keys to their new home, but I think it’s even more joyous now to see how the whole community receives us. We get to share in their good times and hard times, their tears and laughter, their pain and their joy. And I see that as our faith into action.
What we accomplish is so incredible and I only hope that one night a dream will come to you and God (maybe in the form of Deacon Bob Malone), will give you a heart so wise and understanding. And I invite you as a way to share those gifts with His people, by praying about joining in our Tijuana community next year.