Monday, March 14, 2016

Home Sweet Home

One of the guys rooms at the SHOC - hammocks
are the way to go when on a missions trip to Mexico!
Whew, we're home again.

It was a long trip home on Sunday.  We rolled into Big Rapids around 5 a.m. and unloaded the vans, sorted duffles, sleeping bags, pillows and all of the other random odds and ends that get collected on a trip like this.  (Pretty sure every front door on the vans had someone's bottle of vanilla stashed in there for safe keeping!).  The guys house residents (Devon, Cameron and Justin) helped deliver other students to their apartments around town and made room for a few of the guys to stay overnight at the guys house.  CMU students reloaded all of their stuff into their cars and left for the last hour drive back to Mt. Pleasant, while Joe, Mitch and myself got back into the vans and went south again to drop off the vans.  We could have just waited and done it today, but once we're home, it's just really nice to be home again and not have to worry about that loose end. Based on Facebook, most of our students slept a majority of the day and are still dragging a little today. It's amazing how tired you are after a trip like this.

It was one of the best trips that we've ever had.  All of our students were incredible and willing to do everything and anything we asked them to do.  I don't think I've ever had so many volunteers to help with meals before - it was great!  They worked hard, laughed harder and served with everything that they had.  They worked through burst blisters, slivers, sawdust in their eyes and pulled muscles, all with a smile on their face. We're so proud of them and their efforts!  They're all back to a normal routine as of this morning and my Facebook feed has been filled with "I wish I could be back there again!" comments and photos.  (I think most of them legitimately want to be back and it's not just because of the homework that is resurfacing again this week!).  I'm so glad that we had the opportunity to go to Mexico this year and we're already excited for this year!  (Although, I am glad Mitch's dream was only a dream and we're not preparing to leave again with another group on Friday).

Still sorting through all of the photos that we took during the week, but here's some more for you to see.  I'll have one more post this year with the link to our Facebook photos for you to see more of them, but here's a few more for you now:

We were a little intimidating when we pulled into places! 

This is how we needed coffee every day!

Tyler was trying to share some love with an incredibly thorny bush

Morgan and Kate with the best apple soda ever!

Lunch at the Casas headquarters on Thursday!

The outside of City Museum in St. Louis - you can climb on everything!
Jim and Tyler in one of the caves at City Museum

Looking down from the top floor of a 10 story slide!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Feels like a bad breakup

It's hard to believe that the trip is almost over.

A week ago, we were in Amarillo, TX getting dinner and stretching before the final stretch into Roswell. Tonight, we're in Bloomington, IL getting dinner before the final stretch home. FSU has about 7 hours to home (counting the time changes), CMU is around 8.5 and MTU will be around 10 hours, not counting any stops. For being behind yesterday, we're doing great tonight! We're in Bloomington much earlier than normal and we have taken over the Steak'n'Shake. This might not have been the best choice if we want to continue to make good time, but greasy, gut bombs and milkshakes just sounded good. And our mission trip fund is paying for dinner, so no one is complaining.

We stopped and played at City Museum in St. Louis and got a lot of the backcracks out. After running around in tunnels, up and down slides, in and out of buildings, airplanes and trolleys, we're sweaty and stinky! It was a lot of fun though and everyone enjoyed it. Well, except for Lauren and Jon who are both feeling sick :( Almost home and then they can sleep. Until then, they're not allowed to breathe on anyone else and I (Kate) threatened harm to Jon if he breathes on my pillow that he's borrowing.

It feels like a breakup though as we say goodbye to Tech. I think this is the trip where people from campuses connected the most with each other. There has been incredible community building between the campuses and people are honestly sad to see each other leave. It feels like the start of a breakup. We have a few hours before the stop and go dropoffs begin. We'll drop off Erich in St. Joe, MI, Taylor in Kalamazoo, Nick and Alex from Tech who will ride with us to Grand Rapids to pick up a car and Central's cars from Rogers Heights. It'll be a late, long night but we get to sleep in our own beds and shower at home within 12 hours and that's a nice thing to look forward to.

More photos will be up on the blog and Facebook over the next few days since we'll have more than 4G to use. Thanks for following up on our trip and praying for us! You are loved and appreciated!!

Friday, March 11, 2016


Its been a long day. A good day, but a long day. We're still in Texas and will be for a few more hours. This is by far the hardest day of the entire trip. This is the day that we keep pounding rubber and it still feels like we haven't made any progress. It's a long drive to go across the entire state, and attitudes are beginning to show the strain of being packed into seats with no personal space and the scenery never changes.

BUT, we really are making progress (even if it doesn't feel like it) and we're only 10.5 hours from City Museum where we'll be able to play and run for awhile. That will be a good break, a chance to get some of the stiffness out and some more fun adventures as a group. City Museum is not a museum like you're accustomed to, but a giant jungle gym designed for anyone too tall for the McDonalds playplaces. Its awesome and we are all excited!

We really are doing good (sorry if this post doesn't make it sound like it!). People have been having good conversations and the drivers did great today! Rain slowed us and other drivers down and we went past a few accidents. They all did great and all of us and our vans are intact. "Jerk Tyler" (Tyler's alter ego) has disappeared until the cards games begin again (apparently, his personality changes as soon as a deck of cards comes out), but British Taylor is emerging as Joe keeps dropping pillows in his lap. Josh is crashed in the crevace watching Adventure Time while the others play Who Am I and Joe's distracted with old school Reliant K on the radio.  Michigan Tech's passengers were planning on sleeping and Red van has been sorting photos from the trip and talking about the favorite memories. Yellow van was cheering for Stacie to come back into their van, but she ditched them to grab a window seat in Blue to try and sleep. She, Baleigh and Bruce are all starting to feel sore throats, but Medic Jon is on it and watching out for them.

It's raining again, but we're full of pizza, there are fresh drivers in all the vans and we're ready to put some  miles between us and Texas! Talk to you tomorrow!

Headed out!

We're in the vans and headed through Texas this morning. On the way back, this is the longest day because Texas never ends. When we come down, we cut through the very top part of the state (someone called it the tophat of Texas and that's actually fairly accurate), but on the way back, we drive across the state. It'll take us most of today to get out of here. But, we're starting to get ready to be home, so everyone's settled into vans and ready to just go.

Everyone is doing well. Cameron was sick yesterday, but seems to be doing better today. We have a lot of really tall guys with us this year whp ride with their knees in their chins, but they're not complaining and willingly will take whatever seat is open. Blue van has a euchre game going, red van is talking about making rings out of quarters and those in the Tech van are enjoying all of their space (legally,  they can only have 10 people in their van at a time, so that's the van to go to when you need to sleep). Yellow van was talking about trying to sleep (it was another early morning today), but I haven't really heard what they wound up doing.

The tentative plan now is to go to City Museum in St. Louis, MO tomorrow before finishing the drive. City Museum is a favorite spot to go to on this trip and all of the FSU seniors were rooting for this as the fun spot. Weather and traffic permitting, we should be able to make it.

We've had a lot of fun this week and the relationships that were formed and strengthened have been refreshing. It will be nice to be home though :)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Day 3 - Drywall and Dedications

Day 3 (Wednesday) is another day with lots of little jobs and some more downtime, but it's so much fun to put the final touches on a house!  Day 3 is typically the day that you do drywall and stucco, touch up the paint on the trim, clean all of the construction stuff out of the house, do a final tool inventory and more importantly, dedicate the house and give possession to the family.

Rain on Tuesday set a couple of the teams back because of insulation that was getting wet, so FSU Team 1 and MTU both had longer days to get everything done.  CMU stepped it up and not only finished first, but also came back to the SHOC and helped clean, pack the kitchen, make lunches for today and helped make dinner.  They were incredible servants and everyone appreciated their willingness to help out when dinner was ready as the last team walked through the door.

For many of our students, the dedication is the part that stood out for them the most. They were able to tell the family (through translators) how much they love and care for the families and the pastors told the teams about the impact that this house will have for not only the family, but also on the neighborhoods around them.  As part of the dedication service, students who went above and beyond on the work site were chosen to give the family a Spanish Bible (that the whole team signed), the keys to the front door and a plaque to nail above the door.  To end the time, the team prays over the family and the house before saying their goodbyes to the family.  It's an emotional day because even though you only met this family on Monday, you have become so invested in their lives and in their situation, it's hard to leave.

We ended the day with a celebration (aka clean out the fridge and eat everything we can't take back across the border) dinner, an awesome worship time (seriously, these students have great voices and the praise team has been doing SO well!), some small group time to talk about the day and dessert.  Some students stayed up late to play a crazy game of euchre, but the rest of us went to bed early for a 5:45a wake up call this morning.

Jonas playing with puppies

Cassie, Melissa and Danielle

Devon and Danielle praying over the house

Jesus and his family

FSU Team 2 praying over their family

Ty nailing in the plaque

FSU Team 2 with their completed house

Michigan Tech customized the front step of their house

Sunsets in Juarez

Nailing in the plaque

Gail taking a photo

Finishing up the house

Stucco drying looks so weird

Michigan Tech eating lunch in their house

Enjoying the sunset

Michigan Tech and their completed house

FSU Team 1 and the lunch their family made for them

Every day we're stuccoing

Justin and Ross mixing stucco

Gifts for the family and their new house

Ereli's handprint

Katie and Glen on their first missions trip together

Let there be light!

Carlos, Karla and Ereli in front of their new house

Little late, but Katie, Cassie, Baleigh. Emma and Stacie

Cassie and Emma

Jon's awkward selfie #1

Awkward selfie #2 

Jake, Kaitlyn and Renae working on sofit

David, Megan and Greg stuccoing

More sofit


CMU almost done

Gifts in the house

Marissa, Morgan and Kaitlyn

Lauren, Greg, Mike and Kaitlyn
Playing with the kida

Jake and Joe working on the drywall

Scrubbing the stucco tools


Marissa, the drywall champ

Morgan and Kevin

Praying with the family

Presenting the keys


CMU team and their finished house!

Joe and Kate - 6th trip together

Praying over the house

Worship at the SHOC

The grumpy dish crew